India star Virat Kohli has become fully aware of the weight of expectation placed on him by the Men in Blue’s fanatical fan base.
Kohli broke Sachin Tendulkar’s coveted ODI record in the series against the West Indies, becoming the fastest player to reach 20 one-day centuries; becoming only the eighth man to do so.
His 127-run innings (off just 114 balls) also handed the home side a series victory, though that has since been overshadowed somewhat by the West Indies’ decision to return home because of a pay dispute with their governing body.
The 25-year-old told Sports NDTV: The kind of cricket I’ve played in the last four or five years, I guess people expect runs from me every time.”
Despite his previous struggles for form, he said: “It’s all about clearing your mind and being positive and taking my time…I visualised myself playing against the bowlers.”
Kohli’s innings also served as a reminder to selectors – and to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who praised him after the game – that he is far more suited to playing higher up the order.
India reap rewards
Having been recently moved down to fourth spot, he was brought back up the order to his natural position of number three, and India reaped the rewards.
Though he is keen to talk of his patience, his ability to start slowly and then change gear was even more noteworthy against the West Indies.
Considering that his style of play is so well suited to the sub-continent, it will certainly be interesting to see how he performs at the World Cup.
At home, he is rapidly establishing himself as India’s key man, and if anything, the side are overly dependent on him scoring runs.
In fact, he now has an impressive average of over 52 in India.
Kohli has admittedly played a lot less in 2014, especially when compared to his peak years of 2011-2013, over which he hit over 3500 runs in ODIs.
However, he appears to be returning to that kind of form after a difficult summer in England.
Playing conditions in England are completely undesirable for players like Kohli, who make the most of the dry wicket, and it is little surprise that he toiled against the Three Lions.
Like the rest of his Indian team mates, he would have had to wait until December to play competitive cricket again because of the Windies' premature departure, but a series against Sri Lanka has been hastily put together.
Kohli is now back with a bang, and could prove the difference for India as they prepare for the Lions