Easy on the eye, Virat Kohli seeks runs in middle
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"Full intensity," said India's bowling coach Joe Dawes as Ishant Sharma walked back to his bowling mark. Virat Kohli had just arrived at the nets. The third ball that Kohli faced from Ishant reared off a length and hit him on his forearm. The arm guard came in handy and after some minor care, Kohli took his stance once again.
Ishant followed it up with a short ball into his body but this time, Kohli brought out the pull. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, bowling in tandem with Ishant, came up with a fuller length delivery that was greeted with a gorgeous cover drive. That is how Kohli has batted of late. He has looked confident and timed the ball nicely. Yet the runs have stayed away.
Batsmen sometimes go through phases when their form doesn't quite reflect in their performance. After an incredible 2012, where he excelled across all formats, the Delhi batsman is suddenly finding runs hard to come by. Kohli was named the ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year last season, scoring 1,733 runs in 31 matches at an average of 66.65. His form was one of the factors that India's selectors would have been banking on, especially now with Sachin Tendulkar retired and Virender Sehwag out. In his last five ODIs, however, Kohli has made just 65 runs with a highest score of 37. The sequence has read 0, 6, 7, 15 and 37. His batting at the nets seems worry-free. Out in the middle, however, Kohli has been dismissed playing poor shots. Eoin Morgan said they had specific plans for each Indian batsman. With Kohli, the basic idea has been to test his patience, and it has worked so far.
There is no denying that he is due a big score. "Virat is very relaxed. I think it's just a phase that every batsman goes through. But whenever he scores big, it lifts the morale of the team," said Ravindra Jadeja. Jadeja's confidence is well founded, with Kohli instrumental in India's success in the shorter format over the last two years. Twelve of his 13 ODI centuries have come in India victories. And his recent inconsistency is one of the main reasons the middle order has been exposed early.