The game was in its final stages and Australia pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson’s tail was up. He had just punched two holes in the India batting by snaring Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh.
During the 2011 World Cup, the Nagpur crowd had seen their team collapse from a similar
situation against South Africa after a roaring start.
Only Virat Kohli stood between Australia and victory. The packed stands at the Vidarbha Cricket Association waited with bated breath as Johnson came charging in for the kill.
Virat’s response was stunning. With lightning quick bat speed he met the ball on the up and smashed it over the infield. The sound of ball meeting the bat was so loud that it led to an uproar in the stands.
Using Johnson’s 150 kph pace in your strokes is one thing but to take him head-on is another. It only shows the confidence with which Virat is batting.
George Bailey has admitted he doesn’t have much clue on how to stop Virat. As Australia try to analyse his game and what makes him tick, the man gave an insight, “They say winning is the best drug you can have, for me, going out there and scoring runs is the biggest high. If the team wins because of that, I don’t get a greater feeling than that. That’s become more of a habit now and I want to achieve that feeling every time I go out there to bat.”
India’s top order has been in good form but it’s Virat who has taken the wind out of Australia’s sails with his power hitting. In four games, twice he’s scored a hundred in record time. In Jaipur, he traded in sixes and in Nagpur he dealt in boundaries.
With no perceived weakness in his game, Australia’s best bet is complacency. However, with Virat there’s not much chance of that happening. His hunger is undiminished, the speed at which he has hit 17 hundreds (118 matches) is proof.
“Even now, if I don’t do well in a few games, I get hard on myself. It’s not like I’ve made so many runs in one-day cricket, so I can not do well in a few games and think ‘Ok, I’m going to keep my place in the team’. I don’t think like that. If I don’t score in even two games, I’m out there practicing hard to get into my zone.”
Australia have their task cut out. How they bowl to Virat will be a decisive phase of the series decider.