On Saturday, India’s limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was addressing a pre-match press conference in Dharamsala, a day before the hosts took on visiting New Zealand team in the first of five one-day internationals (ODI). Highlighting the importance of the ability to finish matches, he said,”You have to be used to that responsibility, keeping on doing what is required from you over a period of time,” he said. He said the team management had recognised a few players who could take his place as match finisher.
Dhoni, who has batted most of the times at these slots in a major part of his career, did not realise that his search for a finisher lay in his deputy tipped to succeed him as captain in all formats of the game once the 35-year-old world cup winning skipper hung up his boots. Virat Kohli.
Dhoni did add that the team management had found some individuals who would be superb finishers, but chose not to reveal it, citing it would put those capable men under pressure. But, Virat as he is known, has shouldered the burden of expectations since his debut in 2008.
On Sunday, he was again at his best at Dharamsala. Coming in at No 3 after Rohit Sharma’s dismissal, Kohli stitched together vital partnerships with newbie Manish Pandey and Dhoni to take India closer to win. With just three needed for victory, he danced down the pitch to whack New Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi for a maximum to complete the proceedings. That’s Kohli for you.
The ongoing year has been a monumental one for the Delhi swashbuckler. The recently held ICC World T20 in India early this year established him as a finisher who would come to India’s rescue early in the innings and stay till the end. His vital knocks against Pakistan and Australia helped India reach the semi-final of the event, unfortunately they did not get beyond that stage. But, writing was on the wall.
Since taking over the reins of the team in longer format, Kohli has grown in stature both as a captain and a skipper. Once at the crosshairs of critics for throwing away his wicket due to careless shots, the 27-year-old batter has transformed his weakness into strengths. Now, he comes in early when chips are down and gradually plans his innings.
He rotates the strike and meanwhile plays his shots to keep the run-rate within reach. Besides Tests, he has shone in shorter formats of the game as well. And the numbers are evidence. Since his debut, Kohli has appeared in 61 matches which India have won chasing. He has scored 3,360 runs at an astounding average of 86.15 that include 13 hundreds and 15 fifties.
With India in the midst of a gruelling cricket season, we will expect Kohli to continue his run feast on the ground.