No 3 Virat Kohli is the new little Indian master

16:00, Jan 21 2014
Virat Kohli
THE NEW MASTER: India's new prodigious batting talent, Virat Kohli, is looking to put New Zealand under the pump.

If there is ever going to be a new Sachin Tendulkar, then Virat Kohli is it.

His numbers are freakish, his technique is superb, his placement is accurate, his shots come with power, and his temperament is calm.

The latter trait is something which has come along of late, and the 25-year-old sees it as a key to his success.

Since making his ODI debut in 2008, Kohli has racked up an incredible 18 centuries in 119 innings - more than one every seven times he hits the crease.

Only eight men are ahead of him on the all-time ton list, which Tendulkar tops with 49 from 463 games.

With an average of 52.24 and a strike rate of 89.25, Kohli is in complete control of his game, and his temper.

"People have to realise I am not 21 any more; I am grown up," he said yesterday on the eve of the second ODI against the Black Caps in Hamilton. "I am not that immature that I don't know where to control my aggression.

"I have made a few mistakes early on that I admit myself, and there have been times when I have gone over the top and done things that you shouldn't in international cricket, but that's how you learn.

"Last game, the bowler gave me a stare and I gave him a stare back. I didn't say anything. I have realised it is important to make your presence felt but it doesn't always have to be with words. It can be with your bat. I know now that the opposition wants to get me out. That's why they are going to try to rattle me and try to get me into a fight. But that gives me one more reason not to get out. So I pretty much like a battle."

The silky No 3 has worked hard on his balance at the crease, having previously fallen across and been an lbw candidate. A new wider, deeper-in-the-crease stance was used to be able to drive on the up on the tour of South Africa and in Napier, where he looked set to guide his side home in the first game of the series.

Kohli's masterful 123 off 111 balls steered the visitors close, but his dismissal effectively ended the game.

But the Black Caps won't want to let the new Indian batting maestro too far off the leash, because you can bet that he will land punishing blows.

His record in ODI run-chases is sensational. Twelve of his tons have come when batting second, while his average when chasing inflates to 63.88.

"I can analyse situations and figure out at what stage of the innings I need to score how many runs and what I need to do to put the team in a strong position at that particular moment," he said. 

"It's more like having a target ahead of you and breaking it down is a lot easier as far as I am concerned. I look at it in a very different way and it gives me the right kind of mindset to go out there and execute my plans according to how many runs are needed during that situation. 

"That's the only thing I have figured out, why I like to bat second and why I like to calculate scores. It gives me a different kind of challenge. You have so many things to do - you have to calculate, you have to take on a particular bowler, defend a particular bowler, play a few overs out, build a partnership with one guy, then another guy, then another guy, then to finish the innings in the end. 

"It's a totally different feeling and it is very special if you are able to finish the game for your team. That's something that I always aim to achieve."


Fairfax Media