New Delhi, Sept. 16 -- Although India lost momentum towards the end to lose the Twenty20 International against New Zealand in Chennai, what shone through was how Virat Kohli guided the chase, underlining his sublime touch and maturity that is driving him forward.
A transformed batsman since everyone clamoured for his axing during the Test series rout in Australia, the Chennai innings again spoke a lot about how far he has travelled since the low in the Sydney Test. There, James Pattinson had left him doubled up after trapping him leg before in the second innings. He walked away, the hurt and pain etched on his face after another failure.
To his credit, Virat toughened himself to revive his career in the toughest of circumstances, hitting a maiden Test century in the final Test in Adelaide. There has been no let up since then, and the newly crowned ICC ODI Player of the Year can touch another peak of his career if he takes his approach forward and helps India regain the World T20 title.
While T20 is seen as the most revolutionary aspect of cricket, Virat has courted success playing in a more orthodox way. A quick look at his IPL record show the last two seasons have been the most productive, the balance provided by a strike rate that is a touch slower than the most explosive batsmen in the format. That has helped him cut down on risks while building the innings in a format where, for all its whirlwind image, a solid foundation still scores over blindly hitting out.
In Chennai against the Kiwis, Virat showed how it was done. His first four was driven past cover against Kyle Mills. The next two, off Adam Milne, also were hit along the ground. Only one of his first seven boundaries were hit in the air.
His coach Raj Kumar Sharma has spoken of how he had to rein in Virat, and drill into him the need to stay grounded after he had got carried away early on after being pitch-forked into the Indian Premier League spotlight.
It seems Virat's being watchful of not being carried away again.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.