The fairly controversial statement, “You can’t join the dots looking ahead; you can only connect them looking backward,” was made by Steve Jobs at one point. Virat Kohli would understand, having suddenly recovered from a three-year downturn in performance to emerge as India’s star batter in the best cricket id T20 World Cup here.
Kohli has studied the history to revitalize his T20 career in these quickly changing times. As fate would have it, his side has followed suit due to the Australian circumstances, highlighting the batter’s significance in his post-captaincy cricketing career.
The spectators here have been following Kohli around Australia ever since his century against Pakistan, which is without a doubt the World Cup’s best play so far. They could sense something amazing was about to happen.
Even Greg Chappell, a former India coach and icon of Australia who wasn’t always a supporter of the T20 format, was so moved by Kohli’s performance that he referred to it as “a song by God.”
Ironically, more than any performance I have seen in the preceding 15 years, it was also the innings that established T20 cricket as, dare I say it, an art form, Chappell gushed.
Impactful T20 innings aren’t often associated with “art,” but Kohli’s artful-dodger approach to power-hitting is groundbreaking. The long break he took before the Asia Cup and the eagerly anticipated century against Afghanistan in a dead rubber were the catalysts for his success here, which was achieved by Kohli by going “back to the basics,” as cricketers like to say, rather than attempting to completely re-engineer his T20 strategy.
Understanding the origin of captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid’s insistence on a more offensive strategy up the order—loss to India at the T20 World Cup last year—will help one comprehend how Kohli figured this out even before arriving in Australia.
In the shortest format, India did have a conservative attitude to batting up the order, and that needed to alter.
Rohit remarked, “What should take precedence is whether we are improving as a team. “We believed that there needed to be an attitude shift. At the same time, we must keep in mind that there will always be some failures while attempting new things. It doesn’t imply that you need to go backward.
There is definitely no disagreement here; rather, there is synergy.
When the team’s two senior players came down for a rare interview with bcci.tv after Kohli’s century against Afghanistan in September, Kohli stated, “I received a lot of clarity from you guys and the team management, to just allow me to bat. That was really crucial. I felt completely at ease in the area I was given. The World Cup is significant, and if I do well, I can really benefit the squad. I had discussed with Rahul Bhai (Dravid) how I might raise my middle-over strike rate.
Since his innings against Afghanistan, when he blasted his final 72 runs in the space of only 29 balls, Kohli’s knocks have revolved around end-over acceleration in the conventional sense.
He said, “I bet on excellent cricketing shots. “Six-hitting is not one of my strong suits. When the circumstance calls for it, I can (strike them), but I’m better at identifying gaps and limits.
In the early summer Australian conditions at the World Cup, when hitters have struggled in the Powerplay, this realization seems to have freed up more than just Kohli. It has also given India the way forward: aim to attack but, if necessary, establish your own method. Avoid being careless when the going gets difficult.
When Rohit Sharma attempted to bat his way out of difficulty against the Netherlands in Sydney, Kohli just bided his time: his first 25 came off of 24 balls, and his next 37 off of 20.