Sports Affairs: Chasemaster Kohli
TIGER, TIGER BURNING BRIGHTAP
BY Dwaipayan Datta
Article Published, Mar 21 2016, The Times of India (Chennai)
WHAT MAKES CHASEMASTER KOHLI TICK ALL THE TIME?
What did Sachin Tendulkar do to the first ball he faced from Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 India Pak World Cup match at the Centurion? That's a cricket trivia question for all times. Most Indian fans know that the delivery was sent sailing for a six over third man, setting the stage for one of the most memorable chases in the history of Indian cricket, and between the two rivals.
On Saturday, as Virat Kohli was chasing down another Pakistan target, Akhtar made a statement that was quite telling. The paceman, echoing what many of his Pakistani colleagues also feel, said on a TV show that he had never seen anybody better than Kohli in Indian cricket when it came to chasing down totals. “Virat is the best finisher of the game I ever seen in last 20 years,“ he tweeted later, as if to re-emphasise his point. It's not just Akhtar and the current Pakistan contingent. The social media is on an overdrive, hailing Kohli as the greatest Indian chaser of all times. What makes the 27-year-old Delhi batsman do what he does?
What is the philosophy that drives the process and the impact that he brings? Here's a breakdown of the man and his craft...
CHASING WINS HIS PASSION, REVEALS COACH
It's not that Kohli acquired the art of chasing only after he came into top-flight cricket. It was there since long. Even as a teenager, he loved chasing, his childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma told TOI after the Kolkata win. “Even if he gives the impression that he is calm when his team is chasing, it isn't the case,“ Sharma pointed out, revealing a little insight into the man's thinking.“During his early days, he was the No. 4 batsman but he would pad up along with the openers and keep moving around in the dressing room. If we were chasing, he would always stare at me to give him the go-ahead so that he can just get into the middle and finish it himself,“ said the coach.
TAKING COMPLETE RESPONSIBILITY
Even as successful chases are getting commonplace for India, there is a feeling that the team is a touch over-dependent on Kohli. Kohli, however, doesn't mind that a bit and seems to love to do it on his own too. “In the last game (against NZ), I was disappointed to get out for 23. I knew if I had scored 40-45, we would have won it,“ Kohli told BCCI.TV on Saturday . It is a big thing to say, considering that there were three all-rounders to follow him, and MS Dhoni was still at the crease.
SUPREME FOCUS ON FITNESS
The batsman is a natural when it comes to playing the big shots, but he is always on the lookout for the sharp single. That feature comes from very fit mind and body , and Kohli is known to be a fitness freak. He is always pushing for those short runs, which puts the opposition under extreme pressure. Dhoni, a master finisher in his own right, appreciates this ability of Kohli. “Where Kohli has an edge over the others is in the way he pushes hard for the singles and that is why he loves to bat with people who can run hard... Running hard is the easiest way to score runs,“ the skipper pointed out.
A NATURAL LEADER
Kohli's leadership ability also plays a big role in the way he anchors chases. In two back-toback chases against Pakistan, he had Yuvraj Singh for company. It's not always easy for a junior to ask a senior of the class and calibre of Yuvraj to play the supporting role. But he did just that, taking the pressure off Yuvraj.
WITH INPUTS FROM ARANI BASU