Superb 13th Century by Kohli: a brief overview
Wednesday , August 01 2012 , 06:31 PM
Victory in sight and yet another landmark achieved, Virat Kohli squared up for a taste of some rash hits. Nineteen runs away from the series win, Kohli greeted Rangana Herath with moving feet, lifting the delivery over extra cover for a boundary.
The region, through extra cover, would remain a favourite for the rest of the over, as Kohli shimmied down and hammered two of the next three fours in the same area, notwithstanding stealing a furious double from the third ball. The other boundary, the fourth of the over, was over midwicket. For once in his three-hour plus knock, Kohli looked to be in a real hurry.
Otherwise, for 113 balls out of a total of 119, Kohli played a role vastly beyond his years; that of anchoring the Indian chase. He was the chief architect (or bulldozer, whichever way one looks at it) of the toppling of the biggish target — something his ton helped achieve for the seventh time in his unbelievably brilliant and short career.
Kohli has become something Indian cricket had almost never had before — that of being a dependable master of chases. With him around, a man who scored his 13th ODI century in just his 86th inning in the format, no target ever looks too daunting. Not even when India are three down for 60, like they were against the Sri Lankans at the R Premadasa Stadium on Thursday.
At such a point, Kohli, like so many times in the past, put his head down and calmly steered the team towards safety. For support, he had Suresh Raina (who will largely go unnoticed for his unbeaten 58 in the shadow of a great knock) and together they knitted a 146-run stand for the fifth wicket. But over all, it was a Kohli show. He once again proved that flamboyance means little compared to substance, and that converting a start into a fine innings remains his main priority in the game.
To put Kohli’s streak in perspective, no cricketer in the world of one-day internationals has scored 13 centuries faster; few have acculumated five in nine innings.
Pre-Kohli, nothing seemed to be going according to plan for the Indians. Lasith Malinga — a man who helped balloon Sri Lanka’s total to over 250 after a few lusty hits off four-wicket taker Manoj Tiwary in the final over — dismissed form-man Gautam Gambhir in the very first over of the chase. Malinga curved a fuller one in, Gambhir missed, and the slinger did its duty.
While fellow opener Virender Sehwag was quick to make amends by going after Thisara Perera — crashing him for consecutive fours in two separate overs — he too succumbed to Angelo Mathews’s change of pace. Sehwag looked to put away a rank leg side delivery in the 10th over, but a slower ball caught his leading edge and was pouched by substitute Sachitra Senanayake at covers.
Walking wicket Rohit
Things soon got worse for India, as their walking wicket on this tour, Rohit Sharma, fell for yet another single digit score. Rohit looked to work a length ball by Nuwan Pradeep down the leg side, but the ball angled and crashed on to his pads. Rohit, who only played this fixture because Rahul Sharma was sacrificed for Tiwary, was gone, ending a nightmarish sequence that read 5, 0, 0, 4 in this series.
Tiwary could have cashed in on what would have been a truly great day for him, but a mistimed sweep off Jeevan Mendis trapped him plumb for 21. It was temporary revenge for the leg-spinner, as Mendis was one of Tiwary’s four in the first innings, out while also mistiming a sweep.
Kohli, however, looked unperturbed. He controlled the innings with poise, only scoring off the loose balls — the way he did against Malinga for his first boundary or the twin hits off Herath after reaching his half century. He took his time with 50 dot balls and 44 singles. But when the time arrived, as it did right at the end, Kohli opened up his shoulders and allowed exuberance to temporarily take over.
Sri Lanka: U Tharanga st Dhoni b Ashwin 51,
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