Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Virat Kohli - "That's What We Play Cricket For"

I have not seen anything as brilliant as Virat Kohli's response to the game situation against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Am imposing target of 81 to chase in 6 overs, a good bowling attack and a history of the Sunrisers always puncturing their dreams notwithstanding, skipper Kohli stood up to set a wrong right.

Gayle set the one and got out. AB went early. All now rested on the third impact player of the team, Kohli. He is the only one who has the steel to pull this off. And he was not timing the ball.

So he takes the next best option, convert his mishits into twos with some amazing running between the wickets. The way he runs between wickets shows how much he has prepared for these moments, where every single run is important.

But he knows he cannot win the game on twos. He needs to find the boundary. He changes his bat.

The next ball sails over the fence for a six. RCB is back in the game which the Sunrisers were running away with.

Then in the crucial over he decided to keep strike. He backed himself to win the game on his own.

But the moment which he described as "these are the moments we play cricket for" are these. In the very last over Bhuvaneshwar Kumar brought on all his expertise (and he is one of the most skillful) to bowl those deadly yorkers of his. The first, was bang on and no other batsmen in the world would have been able to do what Kohli did in that situation. Driven as much by the moment as by his desire to win, Kohli not only kept that vicious ball out but squeezed it between cover and point for a boundary. It was not just about skill - it was about a mindset that would not accept defeat whatever happens. Whatever he bowls I will find the answer, the boundary. It was an unbelievable sight to see the ball hit the fence.

The next was even better. Kohli shaped to go to the off and play the delivery down to fine leg. Having committed to the shot, he saw that Bhuvaneshwar had cannily fired the ball wide of the off stump. Instead of accepting defeat and taking a single of a double, he changed his shot midway and played the delivery to the off, still having the presence of mind and the skill to place the ball between short third man and the cover point. Four.

Then the six which Warner missed and RCB was home.

His reaction to this fabulous display of intensity? That's what we play cricket for. I wish more players could say that. Fantastic stuff.

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