Virat Kohli began his career as an angry young man, always ready for a scrap. But when he became the leader of the pack, he advocated an aggressive approach. Anger even punctuated his celebrations. Scoring hundreds was easy as runs flowed from Kohli’s bat.
A different Kohli showed up at the Dubai International Stadium for the Asia Cup game against Afghanistan on Thursday. His celebrations after scoring the maiden Twenty20 International century were even more puzzling. No punch of the bat, no fist-pumping, no anger at all. A simple smile and a bow. What a change!
Kohli’s slump and revival
“The last two and a half years have taught me a lot. I am going to turn 34 in a month (November 5),” Kohli told Star Sports during the mid-innings break. “So those angry celebrations are a thing of the past. Actually, I was shocked.”
Towards the end of 2019, his career began to slide, and within two years, it hit rock bottom. The trust in his game eroded, and Kohli was no longer king.
After playing non-stop for years, Kohli avoided taking a break even as runs eluded him. Luck too deserted him as he got out to innocuous deliveries.
A break at the end of the England series this year seemed to have done a world of good for the Indian star. When Kohli came into the DP World Asia Cup, he started showing the same hunger and the skills that propelled him to the top. After two half-centuries and an important 35 against Pakistan, Kohli seemed to have regained his confidence. In the Super 4 game against Afghanistan, Kohli’s struck a century to get the monkey off his back. It ended his 1,020-day century drought.
“I was refreshed after six weeks off. I realised how tired I was. Competitiveness doesn’t allow it, but this break allowed me to enjoy the game again,” Kohli said.
A batter with 70 international centuries, Kohli didn’t have a T20I ton against his name; 94 not out was the highest. Now that blot has been removed. Kohli credited his wife Anushka for putting things into perspective and standing by him during the difficult times.
“You see me standing here because one person has put things in perspective for me. That’s Anushka. This hundred is for her and our little daughter Vamika as well. When I came back, I was not desperate,” he said.
Kohli’s unbeaten 122 was filled with strokes that made him King Kohli. Get ready for Virat Kohli 2.0. He has just taken a fresh guard.