18th August 2008 is marked as a golden day in Indian cricket history, not because of some big title victory or some veteran creating an extraordinary record but owing to the One Day international debut of one of the greatest chasers in 50 over cricket- Virat Kohli.
The 21-year-old aggressive boy went on to score his first ODI century during a difficult chase against Sri Lanka in 2009 and then began a series of 22 centuries in successful chases (26 centuries in overall chases) on different pitches across the globe. Virat averages above 120 runs while chasing targets and this is a record in itself. Pundits call him the ‘Bradman of ODI cricket’ owing to the wonders he creates with the bat in the 50 overs.
The Indian team was chasing a mammoth 362 runs against the strong Australian attack at Jaipur when this chase master scored a 52 ball 100 to script the country’s highest chase in this format.
Following are the reasons why this Delhi based batsman is considered as the greatest chaser in 50 over cricket:
Virat Kohli is known for having the ability to execute copybook shots with a steady head and right balance. One rarely sees the Indian captain lofting the ball early in his innings, he doesn’t even try budging past the 30-yard circle. Kohli likes working the ball around milking runs with orthodox shots.
This kind of conventional cricket differentiates Virat Kohli with other modern-day batsmen who look to score quickly by confirming to high-risk shots and falling off cheaply most of the time.
2) Runs hard:
He knows how to run a marathon up and down the pitch, convert a single into two runs and two into three. The chase master boasts of a low dot ball percentage owing to his ability to exchange the strike regularly. Pick any century and one finds maximum runs coming from these singles and doubles.
While speaking of this quality the No.1 ODI batsman said, “I was pleased from that point of view that I was able to bat through because I was struggling with a bit of cramp around the 90s. Then wickets kept falling, I decided to hit out because I thought I might not have enough energy left.” This was quoted after the 31-year-old had scored a fabulous 160 run knock which included 100 runs accumulated by running.
Control can be defined as the ability of a batsman to play the intended stroke at will. The lesser the bowler beats the batsman (turn or speed), the more controlled the innings are. Virat takes time to achieve complete control but once he has battled the initial deliveries it is just a cake walk for the No.18 batsman.
Only a batsman with control can be sure of the pace he/she wants to bat at and Kohli is just an expert at this skill.
When a batsman needs to bat in difficult situations and bowler-friendly circumstances, he/she loses the cool and falls down to pressure. The Indian captain is aware of his ability to catch up with all pressure and so he doesn’t play hurriedly. Playing a few balls defensively is just a backward step before the big leap.
Virat’s strike rate in the first 15 balls is way less than 100, but once he gets settled no target is safe.
5) Always a scope of improvement and adjustment:
After a blunder in the 2014 England tour where Virat was probably at his worst gameplay, this Delhi batsman made sure he improved his technique in 2018 and did not add any disappointment. Kohli ended the test series with 593 runs and the ODI series with 191 runs. He also went to score his first century on English soil.
To be successful in all formats, a cricketer needs to change certain aspects of his/her game. Virat understands the conditions and bats accordingly. Not all batsmen can score free-flowing runs on Australian and South African soils.