It was a do-or-die situation for India when they faced Sri Lanka in the 11th match of the Commonwealth Bank Series 2012 at Hobart. They had to win the match with the Bonus-point to make sure they were not out of the tournament. Also, they were coming after a 4-0 whitewash in the test series against Australia. And that was the day, Virat Kohli, the Chase Master came into the limelight. Kohli’s 133 vs Sri Lanka in Australia (Hobart) is still, one of the best ODI innings played while chasing.
It is the saying “When going gets tough, the tough get going” that would rightly describes that day.
Putting to bat first by Dhoni, Sri Lanka scored a mighty 320 runs for 4 wickets in their quota of 50 Overs. Tillakaratne Dilshan scored an unbeaten 160 off 165 balls, his 11th ODI century supported brilliantly by K Sangakkara’s top class 105.
India had chased few 300+ targets successfully before. But what made the chase more challenging was, they were supposed to chase the target under 40 overs to stay alive in the CB Series.
YES!!! 321 runs in 40 Overs was the task.
Starting of the new era
When Virat Kohli walked out in the chase, India was already two down with Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar back in the pavilion. It was the once-favourite partnership of Gambhir-Kohli that gave a glimpse of India’s chance in the match.
But chasing a 300+score in the Australian condition needed more than that. It demanded a miracle to keep India alive in the series. And that is what happened. A Miracle!!!
Virat started off with a confident leg-flick in his very first ball. Malinga’s low full-toss directed towards the leg stump was flicked beautifully towards the square-leg region by Kohli to start off his mark.
And then came the master cover-drive when he was at 17 and it is one of the best cover-drives you will ever find in the game. And that shot of a beautiful cover-drive set the tone for the innings he was going to play. You should watch the video below to witness how Virat executed a shot like that.
The Commentator there went awe after witnessing that strike. His words I remember were,
That’s the Stroke. That’s as good as Anything, Anybody, Anytime…
And he did not stop there. It was followed by a huge slog towards the long-off in the right next ball to go past 25 runs mark. After watching that Six one can say that slogging can never be as classical as that. It was a huge 6. Back to back boundaries there, made Sri Lanka pull Malinga off the proceedings for sometimes. But Virat’s master-class was not over there, in fact, it was just starting.
Once Virat Kohli looked settled, his leg flicks and glances came in to play and they started to keep coming. Kohli was running with the game in his hand and he never looked like he’s going to be stopped on that day.
Virat Kohli’s partnership with Gautham Gambhir came to an end after the duo put together an invaluable 115 runs. Gambhir on his part scored 63 off 64 balls before he ran out.
And then walked in was Suresh Raina, another left-hander who had this weak corner of Short balls. It was a complicated situation for the two as they not only afford a wicket there but needed to keep the momentum going too. In fact, the asking rate was striking at high 10+.
At one point, India were 201/3 at 27.3 overs, almost needing 120 runs in 12.3 overs. Hopes for the finals were slowly dying.
But somewhere then, the two batsmen felt India had nothing to lose and especially Virat Kohli, who has this unbelievable liking for these demanding scenarios, accelerated his innings brilliantly to bring on his century. And he was clearly not stopping there without tasting the team’s chances of entering the finals.
It was this character of Kohli, seizing every opportunity & his desire to deliver every time he walks into the field, made him one of the modern-day legends in the game.
Can you believe, India chased 321 runs in 36.4 overs to stay alive in the tournament.
Virat Kohli, stayed unbeaten at 133 runs off just 86 balls. His innings included 16 fours and 2 sixes. Raina supported brilliantly with a pacy 40 off just 24 balls.
Looking at Virat Kohli’s Wagon-wheel
Rich values at the cover field and the mid-wicket area show the class of that innings.
Also, his most productive shot of Leg-glance was the highlight of that innings.
Sourav Ganguly, the former Indian Captain told recently, that particular innings from Virat Kohli against Sri Lanka will always stay as the top innings when it comes to chasing in cricket.
The Malinga Factor Destroyed
It was almost a mockery of a chase by Virat Kohli hammering almost every Sri Lankan bowler who bowled to him. Especially Lasith Malinga, the champion Lankan bowler, when he came for his final spell when Virat was nearing his Century.
The bowler who was famous for his 4 wickets in a 4 ball was hammered and destructed for 4 fours in 4 balls preceded by a 6. Malinga’s 7th over read as 2 6 4 4 4 4.
Lasith Malinga’s stat on that day read as 96 runs in 7.4 overs with an economy rate of 12.52.
The Rise of Chase Master
Even though Sri Lanka went on to win the next league match against Australia and made it to the final, it was Virat Kohli’s innings which is still remembered as the highlight of that entire tournament. And that one particular match raised the bar in Indian Cricket.
From then, chasing targets has become India’s new way of winning in ODIs.
I always have this weird habit of jumbling the timelines in cricket. I wonder what if Virat played under Ganguly against Australia in the 2003 World Cup Finals in which India lost chasing a mighty 357. Things could have been different.
Coming back to the present, Virat Kohli has been the best and still is when it comes to chasing. His 26 of 46 ODI centuries came while chasing so far. In a way, he enjoys chasing as he himself said he likes to bat with a target in mind.