From boos to cheers: Kohli's 'chabuk' knock thrills Wankhede

India skipper Virat Kohli carted around the West Indian bowlers in the series-deciding knock during which he plundered an unbeaten 70 off 27 balls.

Kohli salutes the Wankhede crowd after reaching the fifty off 21 balls.   -  PTI

In local parlance Virat Kohli’s flaying blade that scattered the West Indies bowlers to all parts of the field in the Twenty20 decider at the Wankhede Stadium would have gone down as a 'chabuk' knock.

Such a breathtaking innings, during which he amassed an unbeaten 70 off 27 balls with four 4s and seven 6s, has not been seen in the previous six Twenty20 internationals at this venue.

Kohli began gliding his counterpart Kieron Pollard to third man for a single before unleashing genuine shots that brought to the fore his wristy play, timing and on occasions power. The strike rate of 241.38 summed up his control over the fast bowlers -- Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder, Kesrick Williams, Pollard -- and leg spinner Hayden Walsh Jr. Left-arm spinner Khary Pierre escaped the punishment. 

The crowd, that was right behind Kohli, had its cup of joy full when the Indian captain lifted the pacer Cottrell for a six of the last ball.

It was Kohli’s third Twenty20 match at the venue. His first was against England in 2012 (38 off 20 balls) and the second was against the West Indies in 2016 (89 not out off 47 balls in the ICC World Twenty20).

India lost both these matches, but Wednesday's knock helped break the trend.

The locals chanted 'Kohli, Kohli’ and cheered him right through, a clear change of heart from the gallery that had booed him six years ago in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians. The crowd had targeted Kohli after he ran out Ambati Rayudu.

Kohli struck seven sixes in the third T20I match. Photo: AP


An upset Kohli reacted in a way he thought was right. He said then, "I don't know what is wrong with people in this venue. It feels a bit weird because at the end of the day you play for India and you don't come here to be hated. I don't know why they get so worked up during IPL. They forget that the players they are booing for also play for their country. When I come back and play for India, they are going to cheer for me. It doesn't work that way."

Six years is a long time and Kohli by his spectacular deeds with the bat has won only admirers all across the World. The Mumbaikars demonstrated their affection for him and Kohli acknowledged by raising his bat after he notched his 24th half century in the format.

Kohli has on most occasions entertained the crowd at the Wankhede; he had played his part in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka making a solid 35. Thereafter he stroked his way to an unbeaten 86 against England in 2011 and then he carved out an unconquered 121 off 125 against New Zealand in 2017. It’s at the same venue that Kohli made 235 in a Test match against England three years ago.

So the passionate followers of the game have had their fill from Kohli’s prolific scoring at the venue. The India captain may pick his World Cup 35 as his best knock, the crowd may plump for his most recent knock that dashed the hopes of a West Indies series win.

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