Virat consistent because he 'grabs his opportunities' - Dhoni
MS Dhoni has said that Virat Kohli's ability to capitalize on the opportunities given by the team management sets him apart from many other players. Kohli is the leading run-scorer of this World T20, with 242 runs at a strike rate of 128.04. His three fifties in the tournament have all contributed to India's wins, including an unbeaten 72 in a big chase against South Africa in the semi-final.
"Virat is somebody who is very different if you compare him to someone like a Rohit Sharma or a Yuvraj Singh or Suresh Raina," Dhoni said. "That is how the character of the side builds. He has done fantastically well in the last few years. I feel he has been someone who has grabbed the opportunity to the best potential he had. Because more often than not you will see individuals, if they get five games they will say, 'If I had two more games I would have done something'. But you see Virat, the very first game he gets as an opportunity, he grabs it with both hands."
Kohli has been way ahead of other Indian batsmen in run-making of late. In the past three years, since the end of the 2011 World Cup, he has made 3680 ODI runs in 75 innings at an average of 57.50 with 14 hundreds and 17 fifties. The next-best is Rohit Sharma, who has made 2179 runs in 60 innings at 43.58 with two centuries and 17 fifties. In T20 internationals in the same period, Kohli has scored 775 runs in 22 innings at a strike-rate of 129.38. The next-best is Suresh Raina with 413 runs in 19 innings at a strike-rate of 129.87. Both Raina and Rohit made their India debuts before Kohli did, in July 2005 and June 2007 respectively. Kohli played his first game for India in August 2008. In Tests in the same three-year period, Kohli leads the chart among Indians with 1721 runs in 41 innings at an average of 46.51 with six hundreds, although the second name on the list, Cheteshwar Pujara, has played significantly fewer innings - 27 - for his 1543 runs at 67.08 and has the same number of centuries.
Dhoni said that in his initial years, Kohli would be gutted after failing to convert a good start and that had helped him become a consistent run-maker in recent times.
"That's something that has been of great help to him. Throughout whatever I have seen, he is somebody who wants to improve in each and every game," Dhoni said. "We tried to give him an opportunity at the top of the batting order, and I am talking about the initial years, and there were three-four games where he got out after a good start - scored close to 60, 65, 70, got runs and got out. He was really disappointed with himself and wanted to improve on that. Because of all those reasons, today you see him as a consistent performer, somebody who doesn't throw his wicket and at the same time scores at a pace which is very difficult to match by some of the other individuals, yet he plays very authentic cricketing shots."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo