Dubai: Can Virat Kohli win the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Royal Challengers Bangalore this year? Chris Gayle, the undisputed king of Twenty20 format, failed to do it for Bangalore despite shattering many a record but Kohli, who is in stupendous form, seems to be determined to win it for RCB.
Only on Monday at the Eden Gardens, Kohli broke Gayle’s record for the highest individual run tally in a single IPL season by piling up 752 runs from 12 matches. Gayle, who has crossed the 700-mark twice with 733 runs from 15 matches in 2012 and 708 runs from 16 matches in 2013, has hailed Kohli’s form. In the post-match press conference after Bangalore defeated Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday night, Gayle compared the combination of Kohli and AB de Villiers to superheroes ‘Batman and Superman batting together.’
Kohli’s form at the moment is indeed like Superman. He looks unstoppable now. Such is his form that it looks like he cannot play a single wrong shot. His strokes make every captain look helpless and every bowler wary of bowling to him.
He seems to have simply carried his form from the recent ICC Twenty20 World Cup into the IPL. In the World T20 in March-April, he had seven half centuries from his 12 innings.
Unlike Gayle, Kohli is not a big hitter but he can keep the scoreboard moving just as quickly. His shots to the boundaries are so well-timed and well placed that fielders sometimes helplessly watch the ball racing past them to the fence. Even the shrewdest of captains are finding it hard to set a field to stop Kohli in full flow.
With three centuries and five fifties, Kohli now proudly wears the Orange Cap for the highest scorer. When Gayle was asked about what has helped Kohli produce such a super form, he said: “It’s always about determination. He is a person who is never satisfied. He always wants to better his last performance, which is good. For any batsman wanting to do that and in good form, you keep building on your previous innings, capitalising and cashing on your form as much as possible.”
Kohli has also proved to the world that one need not be tall or have big muscles to be successful in the Twenty20 format. He has shown that Twenty20 is not all about power hitting and that through some perfect timing of shots, a batsman can be dangerous.
Another factor that he has highlighted is the importance of running between the wickets, especially in the Twenty20 format. It was a treat to watch Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni keeping the scoreboard moving at a brisk pace through their running between the wickets during the recent World Cup. Kohli is a quick runner between the wickets, primarily due to his fitness. His fitness regime is now being talked about as the best by any sportsman in the world.
Bowlers and coaches of Kohli’s opponent teams have been trying hard to identify his weakness. Many have spent hours analysing his game, but so far they have failed in finding a defect that can be exploited to trap him. Last summer in England, he did fall to the moving ball repeatedly in Tests but by working hard on it, he has overcome that chink. Neither bouncers nor sharp turners bother him now. With hardly any flaws in his batting, it seems like Kohli is set to shatter all batting records in world cricket.
A huge endorsement of his batsmanship came from Brian Lara, who remarked: “He (Kohli) is just an unbelievable batsman. No need to say any more!”