Taking command, and how!

Kohli has led by example in the ODIs, a record-breaking 558 runs in six matches at a phenomenal 180.00 with three centuries propelling India to a historic series win over South Africa.

Virat Kohli, leading with intensity and passion, has been in command.   -  AP

An incident at the Wanderers on the dramatic third day evening got the Indians fired up for the rest of the South Africa tour.

Play had come to a sensational halt when the umpires suspended proceedings on a hazardous pitch after Dean Elgar was struck on the helmet by a Jasprit Bumrah lifter.

India captain Virat Kohli vehemently wanted the match to continue while the South Africans, including Elgar, were keen on leaving the arena.

And as the players walked back to the dressing room, it is learnt that Elgar sledged Kohli in a manner that left the Indians shocked.

Now, there was a bit of history between Kohli and Elgar in the second Test at Centurion. Kohli needled the left-handed opener, a gritty but not so pretty batsman, when he played and missed more than once.

Yet, when Elgar took off on Kohli close to the change rooms at the Wanderers, it, in many senses, united the Indian team. It also showed Kohli was growing as a leader of men and was not just a captain now.

This incident and the ‘mysterious’ change in the nature of the pitch at the Wanderers on the fourth day — there was water on the surface in the morning and this, along with the rolling, enabled bind a dry track with cracks and made the Indian bowlers work hard for a win — got Kohli’s men more determined when they entered the ODI series.

India coach Ravi Shastri was fuming after the Test and the team did take up the issue of the ‘wet pitch’ with the BCCI, but with the ODI and the Twenty20 series remaining, the Board went soft on the issue.

And Kohli has batted like a maestro in the ODIs, led by example. A record-breaking 558 runs in six matches at a phenomenal 180.00 with three centuries is a massive feat, but Kohli’s batsmanship transcends numbers.

It’s a lot about mindset, attitude and confidence; Kohli is in a `zone’ now, dominating attacks, blending solidity with exquisite shot-making.

Of course, he has become a more rounded batsman technically with footwork, balance and a tighter game around the off-stump. His back-lift is a lot straighter, too.

And the man with the gift of timing eased the ball through the gaps, toyed around with the field-placements with subtle and last-millisecond adjustment of his supple wrists.

He has essayed the horizontal bat shots with contemptuous ease on bouncy tracks.

Kohli is an aggressive, attacking captain by instinct and the blossoming of wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal has much to do with the belief shown in them by the skipper.

With 33 scalps between them in the ODI series, Kuldeep and Chahal — there are clear indications that Kohli wants at least one of them in the 11 for the away Tests too — have bamboozled the Proteas with their flight, turn and variety.

And captain Kohli, leading with intensity and passion, has been in command.