Kohli: Reaping the runs and tons

Every time he has come out to bat in this series, he hasn’t looked like getting out and has treated the bowlers like irritants that must be dismissed from his sight. No bowler can honestly claim to have got the better of him.

Of all active cricketers with more than 10 one-day hundreds (there are only a few), nobody except Virat Kohli is younger than 30.   -  AP

As India imploded in Wednesday’s run chase against Australia, Virat Kohli watched in despair sitting in the dressing room. When the Indian batsmen proceeded one by one to the pavilion, Kohli buried his face in his hands. If only he'd stayed out there for five more overs… if only he'd not played that disastrous shot… if only someone after him had kept his head. If only.

There was no doubt whose wicket Australia wanted the most in Canberra. Nowadays, there is one wicket all of Australia wants more than anyone else's. “After Dhawan went, it was all on Virat. We knew if we got Virat out the rest of the blokes were finding their way,” Kane Richardson said after the match.

Kohli has scored 373 runs in four matches this series, averaging 93.25. Every time he has come out to bat, he hasn’t looked like getting out and has treated the bowlers like irritants that must be dismissed from his sight. In Perth, he fell trying to hit out towards the end; in Brisbane, he was run out to an excellent throw; and in Melbourne, he was again out trying to accelerate in the death overs. No bowler can honestly claim to have got the better of him.

At the MCG, he became the quickest to 7000 ODI runs and 24 hundreds. “Nobody even talks about anyone else at that slot (three). There are other individuals who got to bat at various levels, but I don't think they grabbed it the way Virat has,” said M. S. Dhoni.

“Definitely he is the best among the Indian batsmen, along with Rohit in the shorter format. He's somebody who will take the team forward for a long time.”

Wednesday's hundred was Kohli's 25th in one-day cricket. Fifteen of his centuries have come batting second. Among them, 13 have led to an Indian win with only two ending in a defeat. Only four of his centuries have come in a losing cause . Those numbers show how critical his contributions have been to India's success; he is now – and has been for some time – the side's number one batsman.

On the list of ODI centurions, the 27-year-old Kohli stands only behind Sachin Tendulkar (49), Ricky Ponting (30), and Sanath Jayasuriya (28). Of all active cricketers with more than 10 one-day hundreds (there are only a few), nobody except Kohli is younger than 30. If he continues in the same rate, he will soon overtake Jayasuriya and Ponting. Where he will finish is anybody's guess.

Australia may not love Kohli but there is respect for him here. Perhaps not just respect but awe. On Wednesday, the Manuka Oval crowd rose to applaud him upon his dismissal. And most of the 10,922 present were Australians. As he walked off, Kohli and the crowd will have realized what his exit meant in the context of the game.