India v South Africa, World T20, semi-final, Mirpur April 4, 2014

'My best T20 innings' - Kohli


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Match Point: Kohli, a smart thinker

Virat Kohli has rated his matchwinning, unbeaten 72 against South Africa in the World T20 semi-final as his best T20 innings considering the importance of the match. While Kohli said the Indian dressing room was calm at the innings break, he added that there was pressure during the chase, but he did not want to let South Africa know that.

"Depending on the importance of the match, yes, you can say it is my best T20 innings," Kohli said. "But I have struck the ball better in T20s in other games. I have also timed the ball better than I did today and have managed to score five or six boundaries very fast. Today it was difficult as I had to work hard for the knock. But as per the importance of the game, this knock tops it.

"I wanted to play an important knock when the team had entered the semis. I was in good form, so I though it is better that I stay till the end. In T20, it is very important that a batsman stays till the end. It's not like there was no pressure. It wasn't easy. Pressure was there. But it is important that you don't show it to the opponents. They are a world-class attack and the slightest mistake against them can cost you. I just wanted to stay calm and was keen to back myself."

Kohli's reputation as a reliable chaser continues to grow. When asked how he adapted while batting second in T20s compared to one-dayers, Kohli said his calculations became quicker, and also credited the start given by Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane in this match. "It's all about analyzing how many runs have been scored before I walk in to bat and what rate we are going at. Today we got off to a flying start, we were going at 10 runs an over in the first three. It gave me time to settle myself in. If we were six runs an over, I could have gone for my strokes and I probably could have got out. People don't realise the importance of those small starts but I think the way Rohit and Ajinkya batted initially, it set the platform perfectly for us, it put the pressure right back on South Africa and it allowed me to play myself in and stick to my plans.

"It's very difficult to break it down in a T20 game because as I said, rush of blood, plus it is a shorter format. Those calculations come down, they become smaller, become quicker. You need to think really quick, when to score, when to defend. I think it is all about how many their main bowlers have bowled or how many overs the part-timers are going to bowl, how many runs you need to score off the part-timers and the main bowlers. It's all about when I walk in to bat, I look at the score board, what the situation is like and talk to my partner, what we can do from there on."

Kohli scored 40 of his 72 runs in singles and twos, and had only three dots. He went as far as saying that a single was as important as a six in this format. "That's something I always believe. I was on 20 not out off 17 balls (17 off 16 actually) without hitting a boundary. If you can do that and the opposition knows if I can get two boundaries in between, my strike rate goes up to 150, around that. It is very important to keep rotating the strike which, in a rush of blood, you always keep looking for boundaries. But as long as you keep rotating the strike and not lose wickets at the same time, the opposition captain has to think about a lot of things after that because if you can place the ball for two runs thrice in an over and the sixth ball goes for a boundary, it is a brilliant over for you. So I think it's very important to know the importance of singles and doubles in T20 cricket as well."

South Africa held back Dale Steyn for the death but India were able to take 22 off his second and third overs. Kohli said it was crucial to put pressure on the leader of the attack.

"Against a quality bowling attack, you need to be on top. It's important to put pressure on a world-class bowler like Dale. That's why the key is to score off the other bowlers so that he doesn't have too many runs to defend. That's why if you take six or seven runs off him, when he comes to pick wickets, it's more frustrating for the opposition. The plan was to not give him wickets. I think we ended up scoring 11 an over off him and that wasn't the plan at all. Once you start frustrating the opposition and not allow them to stick to their plans, the game starts falling in your way and that's what we decided to do."

MS Dhoni played out a dot ball in the penultimate over to allow Kohli the chance to hit the winning runs. Kohli was thankful to the captain for the opportunity. "Yes, he gave me a chance. I had told him 'aap khatam karo, lekin unhone bola is match mein main tujhe aur kuch nahin de sakta. Tuney acchi batting kari hai, to ye mera gift hai tere liye' (I told him, you finish it. But he said, I cannot give you anything else in this game. You have batted well, so this is my gift for you).

"I said 'that's very kind of you' and I accepted it. Hitting the winning runs is a wonderful feeling and I am grateful to him for allowing me the opportunity to hit them."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    He is a master of chase keep going virat.

  • Rajan on April 6, 2014, 2:55 GMT

    I saw Kohli bat for the first time some time in 2009. I had returned to India after a few years and was desperate to watch some cricket, even if it was only on TV. I never did cotton on to baseball. I was astounded to watch this chap bat: he had the flair of Tendulkar, the orthodoxy of Dravid, and he played the ball later than anyone I had ever seen, and he was only 20-21 years of age. All I thought he needed was the singleness of purpose, the steely resolve, and the steadfastness of effort to become one of the truly great players. If all time. I am absolutely delighted that he is living up to his early promise, and hope that he continues to develop and succeed. Greatness awaits, and lies within his grasp.

  • VIJAY on April 5, 2014, 18:03 GMT

    @Anurag Chaudhary....where are you dear...any batsman can freely bat in first innings....but in 2nd innings batting, there are many hurdles...first one is pressure situation, 2nd is fear, 3rd is pitch may assist the bowlers...but if you see entire cricket history, only a handful of batsmen like bevan, Mike Hussey etc mastered over these hurdles....and kohli stands tall among these....he is still 25 years age and ahead of all the contemporary batsmen in any format, in any condition....give credit to players wherever it is required, plz dont be narrow minded person

  • archisman on April 5, 2014, 16:53 GMT

    All we can say as a fan of India, and a fan of Cricket: Kohli is something! His cricketing brain is awesome, not just his batting. The man who for me underscored the power of quick singles in ODI is Javed Miandad. And the power of rotation of strike in T20 -- Dhoni and Kohli. When the bowler is busy figuring out the optimum variation he should inject in his next delivery, rotation of strike is the best variation a batsman can cause to throw him off.

    Can Kohli extend his golden run for one more match and give India the first repeat in t20 championship? Can someone else take the ownership and see India through in case Kohli fails?

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    A few years ago, when Kohli was not a regular in the Indian ODI team, he was usually played as replacement player. But still had managed to reach no 3 in ODI batting ranks. One of the visitors Cricinfo site had commented on a story about team selection. He wrote that Kohli was an over rated player, there were better players, including his favourite player, who were not considered. I literally felt at that time that a player despite playing much less matches than being played by India could achieve such high ranking, he should be the first choice player. He became one sooner and rest is history.

  • Android on April 5, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    Anurag, for any batsman chasing is always a big challenge...most of the time the pitch will be favourable for bowlers

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    yeah kohli your the man !!! & it is unfair to compare ab & vk , both are world class , they use bottom hand effectively difference in their attitude kohli is down the ground player & ab specialist in improvisation though he can play down the ground as equaly as vk but he is different in approch , virat always play that delivery got ab to mid off or insde out by stepping out or just play to infront of squre , so instead comparing them just seat back & watch modern greats in making .

  • hazzaz on April 5, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    Fearless batting by indian batsmen is the direct result of them playing in IPL, which is all good for cricket. virat is definitely better than sachin while chasing, he excels in pressure which most indian batsmen cant. he is more like a ponting or richards kind of fearless batsman and hopefully should always bat at number 3.

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    Mr. virat kohli only second inning player please check his record in odi as wel as t20 in odi Mr. Kohli ave in second inning 64.68 but when he bat first his ave less than half ave 37.64 and same story in t20I fist inn ave 25.61 and second inn 82.86 so he is only second inn player not great player in this era just over rated player....

  • Darshan on April 5, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    @AmmaarMoosa ha ha ha good joke. Kohli is really bad in SA, AUS because he do not has triple hundreds in ODIs in those countries. HA HA HA HA