Father dead, he bats to save Delhi

When 18-year-old Delhi batsman Virat Kohli started his slow walk back after scoring a chanceless 90 this afternoon at Kotla, rival Karnataka players did not know whether to celebrate his innings or his dismissal.

Kohli was on 40 at close of play on Monday and his team staring at a follow-on with the last recognized pair in the middle.

This morning, along with Puneet Bisht who scored 156, Kohli saw his side through to safety.

But not many thought Kohli would be able to report at the dressing room this morning, let alone bat.

He lost his father, Prem Kohi, 54, at 3 this morning.

His teammates were surprised when he came back to play. The team desperately needed him but they told him he was more needed at home. But he insisted: "I want to bat."

Kohli looked blank but was focused and kept telling his partner Bisht to "stay at the wicket."

Kohli burst into the Delhi Ranji team with a series of big knocks at all levels in age-group tournaments. He scored 251 against Himachal Pradesh in an under-17 match in 2005, got a call for India under-19 and made 123 against England. He made his debut against Tamil Nadu this season.

When he was declared out at 90 before lunch, though the bat had brushed the pad as replays showed, his team was clearly out of trouble.

"We asked him what made him come here. And we also told him that if he decided to go back and be with his family, the entire team would support him. He decided to play. That is an act of great commitment to the team and his innings turned out to be crucial," said skipper Mitthun Manhas. "Hats off to his attitude and determination. It's unfortunate that he missed out on a hundred but what matters today is that how he played, not how much he made," added coach Chetan Chauhan.

... contd.

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