NASSER HUSSAIN: Irresistible Virat Kohli is one of the ALL-TIME greats and is a master of the chase… the India star is the main threat standing in the way of England and a spot in the T20 World Cup final
- Virat Kohli has come back strong after struggling last summer in England
- He is one of the all-time greats and had a brilliant display against Pakistan
- Kohli played some unbelievable shots in the innings he played to win the group
- His greatest attribute is his will to win and he is a master of the chase
- England will have to be careful if Kohli gets the same momentum going
When India were in England last summer and Virat Kohli was struggling I was asked if he would ever come back strong. The answer was that all he needed was a break.
Kohli puts himself through so much. He does everything at a hundred miles an hour. He is full on and cannot do anything in half measures. I don’t think anyone puts more into a game of cricket than he does.
It had to eventually take its toll and since he had that break it has been no surprise he has come back strong, particularly in this Twenty20 World Cup where he poses such a threat against England on Thursday.
Virat Kohli has been one of the stars of the T20 World Cup with some impressive displays
Kohli produced one of the all-time great white-ball knocks during their win over Pakistan
Kohli, 34, is one of the all-time greats and the innings he played to win the group game against Pakistan in Melbourne was one of the all-time great white-ball knocks. He played shots, such as the six back over Haris Rauf’s head, that were unbelievable. As Pakistan found out to their cost, no game is over until you have got Kohli out.
There are not many who can play like Kohli in the white-ball game. Jos Buttler is one and AB de Villiers was another. They play shots even professional cricketers around the world take note of and aspire to play.
Of all his many attributes the biggest with Kohli is his will to win. When you watch him train, when you see him playing football on the outfield before a game and when you look at his stats in run chases, you just appreciate what a winner he is.
Those stats are phenomenal. In winning chases for India in T20 internationals Virat averages 90.05 with a strike rate of 135.42.
He has 16 half-centuries in 36 winning chases and has been unbeaten at the end on 18 winning occasions. It is the way he manages those chases and works out what he needs to do that is so impressive.
When that momentum gets going, and with the Indian fans roaring their approval, England will have to be careful the game does not get away from them. It will be like a crescendo and Kohli can become an immovable and irresistible force.
If I was England captain I’d tell the players to be ready for the noise that will greet every Kohli boundary at the Adelaide Oval.
If he is starting to take you down be ready for how you feel, as a bowler, when you are at the end of your mark. Make sure you have clarity of thought when the crowd are going mad. Take your time and don’t get sucked in by the atmosphere because the game can quickly be taken away from you.
Kohli may soak up deliveries at first. He is not like Suryakumar Yadav, who comes out aggressively. But just when you think you have got him down he will put his foot on the gas and then it all changes. How do you get Kohli out? I would go with Adil Rashid when he comes in. Kohli hits very well square of the wicket and the square boundaries are short here. But he is not a great sweeper and Rashid has a decent record against him, taking Kohli’s wicket five times in white-ball internationals.
England will have to be careful if Kohli finds momentum in Thursday’s semi-final
The England leg-spinner also has a good record on this ground, having taken 17 wickets during his spells with Adelaide Strikers and South Australia, second only to Rashid Khan among white-ball spinners. But if Rashid’s record is good here, Kohli has a real love affair with this ground. He has hit five hundreds in Adelaide, more than at any other ground in his international career. He has played 10 matches here in all formats and made 907 runs at 75.58. He loves batting here.
Kohli is fiery on the field but with a bat in his hand he is cool and calculating. He thinks through situations and loves the battle. He is not driven by his statistics – all he worries about is how many games he can win for India. After India won the 50-over World Cup in Mumbai in 2011, Virat was one of the players carrying Sachin Tendulkar around the ground on his shoulders. I asked him what it was like carrying Sachin around. He said: ‘Sachin has carried Indian cricket for so long that we need to carry him now.’
Kohli has carried India for a long time now and what drives him is the desire to win more World Cups for his nation. India’s record in world tournaments is not as good as their players and resources should dictate. Kohli got them to No 1 in the world in Test cricket but then they lost in the World Championship final against New Zealand when he was captain. Now he wants a different outcome here and in Sunday’s final in Melbourne.
Kohli has long carried India but their tournament record is not as good as it should have been