India skipper Virat Kohli’s averages over the past year or so are just ridiculous and he’s so consistent that you almost expect him to score a century every time he’s at the crease.
The expectation to deliver which he carries on his shoulders each time he bats is phenomenal, just like it was for Sachin Tendulkar, and he was on top form again on Sunday as he led India to victory from a dire situation in the opening one-day clash with England.
He finds himself in some amazing situations yet still seems to inspire India to surge over the line, and it’s not just setting totals but chasing, as at the weekend, when the pressure is even more intense.
Kohli also possesses a touch of arrogance, something I like to see in a player, and he’s very confident about delivering for his team. With a Test, one-day and Twenty20 average above 50, more often than not he does.
The 28-year-old did struggle when he came to England in 2014 and he will be tested again when India return here in 2018 but he has adapted his game from two years ago and is going from strength to strength.
Looking at his game from a bowling perspective, there do not appear to be too many weaknesses to expose. If I had ball in hand during today’s second one-day tussle in Cuttack my plan would be to stick to my strengths.
I would bowl outside off-stump, trying to swing the ball away as much as I could, which is difficult with the white ball as it rarely moves after 2-3 overs, but nevertheless that would be my tactic. I’d have a couple of slips in place too.
The key is to try and get him out early so I would go super-attacking from the off. England could perhaps have been more aggressive against Kohli on Sunday and really tried to crank up the pressure with front-foot fields.
Although he’s a genius, Kohli is quite an orthodox batsman. He’s not a Chris Gayle-type who will stand in the crease and try and launch you over the ropes for six every delivery.
He has a more standard game and if you bowl a good ball to him, he will generally respect it and play it on its merits. It’s when he gets bogged down that Kohli becomes more aggressive and starts running down the wicket.
Outside off-stump is the only real chink in Kohli’s armour, and if England do snare early wickets today I would like to see a couple of slips, men around the bat and fielders really getting in the faces of the Indian batsmen.
I have read some criticism of England’s bowling unit in the wake of their defeat on Sunday, that they are not developing as quickly as the batting section, which has come on leaps and bounds since the 2015 World Cup.
In a bowler’s defence, it’s a tough gig these days as everything is against you – fielding restrictions, bat sizes, boundary dimensions – and it is inevitable that an individual will take a bit of tap from time to time.
It’s crucial that a bowler knows his exact role in a side and I believe England do that pretty well. I don’t actually think England played a particularly bad game in Pune on Sunday, I just think that when it came to the crunch India dealt with the pressure better.