CENTURION: When Virat Kohli walks out to bat in the second Test, it’ll be his 65th five-day game after having made his debut in mid-2011. Joe Root, Kohli’s English counterpart, finished playing his 65th five-day game in the last Test match of the Ashes after making his debut in Dec 2012. Four Test matches short of both is Steve Smith, the Australian captain. The last Ashes Test was his 61st, despite making his debut in the longest format in mid-2010.
And yet, it is Smith who is the leading run-getter among these three batsmen. Smith has 6057 runs at an average of 63.67, Root has 5701 runs at 53.28 and Kohli has 5301 at 53.01.
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The gap between these three batsmen — and who is catching up on who — is what dictates most social network cricket thread discussions.
The fact is there’s a race to be the best in the world and that alone should matter to Kohli. He’s spent a good half-a-dozen years preparing himself for it. And while nobody has to spell it out right now, 2018 has got to be the year when he will have to do his catching up. His time has, in fact, already begun.
Kohli spoke of ‘intent’ after the Cape Town Test, and ahead of the one at Centurion starting on Saturday. “People can tell if you are playing with intent or not. There will be tough moments but I think even the tough moments, one needs to overcome with intent,” he says.
And ‘intent’ is what one clearly sees in Kohli every time he walks out into the cricket field. The whole idea is to play to win. “It comes with a clear head,” he says.
No professional cricketer has gone about his game with the kind of passion and preparation as Kohli in the last four to five years. In fact, be it runs or plain good fitness, he’s set the benchmark for the rest of the cricketing world to follow.
The next big thing for the 28-year-old is put this machinery in place, one that he alone has set up, to stamp his authority around the world. That is what Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman did. Kohli clearly has a place among the greats. It’s just that his journey is still on.
In the Test match starting on Saturday, where India have to at least draw in order to stay alive in the series, the primary requirement will be to put runs on the board. And as India’s leading batsman, the onus will be on him to deliver more than anybody else.
Smith has done it for Australia. Root has done it for England, even if in patches. Kohli set the pace in Australia and now has to take it forward.
India showed in Cape Town they have the wherewithal to pick 20 wickets. What they’ve not shown yet is their ability to score in conditions that have been perennially challenging for them on away tours. In a game that matters as much as the series now, the onus can very well remain on the India captain to show the way even as he sets about carving the necessary niche for himself. Source : timesofindia