Saturday, June 22, 2024

Kohli the real deal

It was Virat Kohli’s 19th century which eventually went on to become his fourth double-century in ODI cricket. Don’t be surprised as more accurately it was his tenth ton yesterday though it was for the nineteenth time that the Delhi batsman had added a century-stand for India.
The Asia Cup game against Sri Lanka was Kohli’s 83rd ODI and the number of big partnerships that he has put together is staggering; among the Tigers only Shakib Al Hasan can match Kohli with 15 century stands in 123 games but the likes of Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal are far behind.
Out of the four double-century stands that he has put together, three were with Gautam Gambhir, his Delhi colleague. They added 224 runs against these opponents in Kolkata in 2009 while last October, they put together an unbeaten 209 against England in their home ground.
This was their second in a row after the game in Hobart on February 28 where Kohli and the rest destroyed Sri Lanka quite easily. At the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, it was Kohli’s second successive century though this was more restrained as he took time to settle down and let Gambhir flow freely at the other end. Their stand began when Sachin Tendulkar timed a Suranga Lakmal full-toss right into Mahela Jayawardene’s lap at short cover.
From then on, Kohli and Gambhir didn’t allow the Lankans a sniff. A limited bowling attack also didn’t help, although the pair never really put too much emphasis on the big hits. None of the overs during their partnership even reached the double-figure mark but runs kept flowing.
At one stage during their stand, both batsmen were batting on 99 and it was Kohli who reached the landmark first, off 115 balls. A ball later, Gambhir pulled the ball into the gap to reach his one off 116 balls, his first international hundred in two years.
It was a strange coincidence for both batsmen as Kohli celebrated his first game as vice-captain with the big score. Who did he inherit the position from? Gautam Gambhir, whose celebrations after reaching the century showed what it meant for him.
“It is a great honour for me but it doesn’t change my position in the team,” said man-of-the-match Kohli at the end of the game. “It is the same as it was before. I want to score more runs to help the team win.”
The two batsmen, seven years apart, are not known to be the greatest of friends but are from the same city and have played first-class cricket together since 2006. But it seems Kohli, who played his first match in 2008, is quickly catching up to the senior pro as he already has ten ODI tons, as many as Gambhir has reached after making his debut back in 2003. “It is always special to bat with him. We have three double-hundred partnerships and we understand each other’s games. We run well and don’t need to talk too much. I am happy that we got the partnership and we each got hundreds,” added Kohli.
Definitely Kohli is a man who is living up to his reputation as the next big thing in Indian cricket, hopefully past the ‘angry young man’ stage.

-With The Daily Star input

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