By his own lofty standards, Virat Kohli has had a modest World Cup so far. But his Indian teammates all think the elegant stroke-maker will live up to his reputation as a big-match player when it matters.
And few games matter more than Thursday’s semi-final against Australia. For Kohli, it’s a golden opportunity to get back amongst the runs. “I don’t think he has batted badly. When he has got an opportunity he has scored runs,” India’s World Cup captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.
“It’s not that he has scored a century every time he has gone out to bat. But everybody shouldn’t be relating his performance with the test series and expecting a hundred in every innings from him.”
Kohli’s lean run at the World Cup has been puzzling, partly because of his great record record in One Day Internationals and his great form this summer.
He has scored 22 ODIs, averages almost 52 from 157 matches in the format and is among India’s best batmen.
He replaced Dhoni as test captain for India’s last match against Australia in Sydney in January and scored four hundreds in the series and averaged over 86.
But his form in ODI has fallen away. He made a century in India’s opening World Cup match against Pakistan but hasn’t made a fifty since.
Known equally for his silken touch with the bat and a penchant for run-ins with opposition players, Kohli also found himself embroiled in controversy after swearing at a journalist over a story about his personal life. The batting mainstay was censured by the Indian board for his ugly outburst against the travelling Indian journalist in Perth and advised to maintain his cool.
After his 107 against Pakistan in Adelaide, he has scored 46, 33 not out, 33, 44 not out, 38 and 3 and Dhoni backed him for a big one soon.
“I don’t think there has been any poor shot selection. He is a dominant batsman who likes playing his shots when he goes in to bat,” Dhoni said. “It’s quite difficult but at the same time I feel it is important to keep focussing on the process. It’s just around the corner and big players always score in big games.”