On cloud nine, Kohli eyes more glory

Today, only two active players have more ODI runs: Yuvraj Singh (8622) and M.S. Dhoni (9338). And Kohli has seven years on both of them. He will carry on, scoring more runs, breaking new ground, defining a new normal. Indian fans will hope Sunday is no exception.

Virat Kohli’s batting this last fortnight has been thoroughly dominant.   -  AP

 

When he pushed Sabbir Rahman to long off and jogged over for a single, Virat Kohli did not immediately realise what he had accomplished. A congratulatory message appeared on the big screen a moment later, and a boozy cheer went up all around Edgbaston. Kohli acknowledged it with a half-wave of the bat, gave Rohit Sharma at the other end a ‘thumbs up’, and carried on. As far as milestones go, eight-thousand runs in one-day cricket is perhaps not the grandest, but it is yet another endorsement of his abilities that Kohli has got there quicker than anyone else.

Read: India's road to the Champions Trophy final

Thursday’s knock was flawless and brutal, full of the sort of shots we are now used to seeing: half-volleys driven with ease, gaps picked with inch-perfect precision, and rubbish from part-timers dismissed with contempt. It was Kohli’s finest effort at this Champions Trophy, although it was slightly overshadowed by Rohit Sharma’s smooth century.

“I was feeling really good,” he said afterwards. "I wanted to give myself some time, 10-15 balls, I always do that. Last time around, we lost an early wicket, so I had to play with a bit more patience. Today was an opportunity to express myself. As I got going after 30-35, I grew in confidence and when you're coming onto the ball and hitting the short ball well, you know you’re playing well.”

The Indian captain now has scores of 81 not out, 0, 76 not out and 96 not out in four innings at the tournament and it seems like he has barely broken sweat. Perhaps it is so because of how routine he has made all this seem — a fifty does not stand out anymore.

Kohli effectively made the same point last week, defending A.B. de Villiers' supposed loss of form. “I actually empathise with him,” he had said. “I go through this a lot as well. You set (really high) standards for yourself and then (when you don't meet them), people get shocked.”

It was de Villiers' record Kohli smashed against Bangladesh, getting to 8000 in 175 innings, seven fewer than his good friend needed.

It was not that long ago that Kohli was going through a bit of a trough -- by his standards, of course. The Australia Test series was a disappointment and the IPL — in comparison to his colossal deeds the year before — was only middling. He arrived in London having led India through a long home season of cricket without much of a break, when his Champions Trophy began against an unpleasant backdrop, with reports of discord between skipper and coach.

And yet Kohli’s batting this last fortnight has been thoroughly dominant; the runs have not stopped flowing. “I’m really enjoying the way I'm batting," he said on Thursday. "For me the number of runs do not matter at this stage. I'm really enjoying the process. It gives me joy that whatever I'm practising and how I prepared after the IPL is paying off in this tournament. I'm pretty happy getting the team across the line. It doesn't matter if it's three figures or two or even one."

Some credit for his success had to go to Sanjay Bangar, India's batting coach, and Raghavindra, the team's throw-down specialist from the NCA, he pointed out. “On a personal level, I can say that whatever improvements I've had in my batting over the last two years is because of these two. Their input is priceless, they have taken my batting to another level.”

Today, only two active players have more ODI runs: Yuvraj Singh (8622) and M.S. Dhoni (9338). And Kohli has seven years on both of them. He will carry on, scoring more runs, breaking new ground, defining a new normal. Indian fans will hope Sunday is no exception.