In Focus: Virat Kohli Cover Drive

The cover drive is the most delightful shot one could witness from a batsman. The applause that comes from the crowd when a batsman makes in between the cover region fielders is the most rewarding event one could feel as a batsman.

So, why is cover drive so special?

The technique that involves bringing out this shot with proper execution is a great challenge for any batsman. It requires a solid technique and utmost execution skills to handle the toughest shot of the lot.

Only few batsmen in the history of the game have mastered the elegant cover driving skills– Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Sourav Ganguly, Damien Martyn, Hashim Amla, Michael Hussey, and currently Babar Azam to name few.

Although many batsmen in the game’s history have played a part in expanding the art of the cover drive, whenever Virat Kohli plays this shot, we can sense a divine touch in it.

Cover drive has been the favourite shot for the Indian captain. The sound that comes out from the sweet-spot of Virat’s bat while playing that shot is a rousing high for all the Viratians around.

Let’s get into the techniques that get involved in making a Virat Kohli cover drive.

This aarticle is also helpful to understand how to play cover drive like Virat Kohli.

The Virat Kohli Cover Drive

Virat Kohli cover drive technique

The Shuffle

  • Not only for the cover drive, but Virat also does it for every single ball he face.
  • It helps him to encounter the balls bowled outside off to him.
  • Moreover, the shuffle gets his legs more quickly to reach the ball. 

“The most important thing is to have a good balance when you’re driving the ball,” Virat Kohli said in a video titled ‘Batting masterclass with Virat Kohli’

The Head Position

  • Virat’s head moves along with his toe.
  • The head won’t be forward or backward but will be right at the vertical line of the toe. 

“Your head position is very important and it should always be where your toe is,” ~Virat Kohli

The Footwork

1) Front foot

  • The front foot heel reaches first, followed by the balls of the feet.
  • The front toe will be pointing towards the extra covers with a bent on the front knee.
  • Not a long stride, but a decent stretch to hold the balance of the body, and at the same time withstand the transfer of weight.
  • The weight is balanced exactly at the balls of his front foot.

2) Back foot

  • The work of the back foot is to produce base energy for the shot.
  • It also supports the front foot to make a steady body position throughout the shot.
  • The back foot is faced towards the sweeper cover region while playing this shot. 

The Art of Hands

1) Top hand

  • Virat’s cover drive is forced by his top hand.
  • The top hand leads the control of the downswing of the bat.
  • Virat’s drive at the cover regions looks more blistering than many others’ drives because of the push he makes with his top hand.
  • You cannot see the complete follow-through of the Kohli-cover drive. Virat use to withdraw the bat once the ball was played. 

2) Bottom hand

  • The bottom hand doesn’t play a big role in his shot except guiding and controlling the bat swing.
  • Virat only uses his thumb and index fingers of his right hand on the handle. 

The Contact Point

  • Virat usually contact the ball just before his front leg.
  • It means the contact point is made so closer to the front pad and his body.
  • And also, Virat generates a little push from his top hand, right before the point of contact. 

“You make contact with the ball close to your body and close to your head, that’s how you stay in control.” ~ Virat Kohli

The Elbow Position

  • Virat places his elbow just above his head when he finishes the shot.
  • Also, the elbows will be directed toward the region where he looks to play the ball. 

The Length

  • Anything that is pitched half volley outside off stump is picked to go for a cover drive.
  • Sometimes when the ball comes a little bit in, Virat used to collapse his back foot to play the shot. Here the bat swing and timing play the major role.

“If the ball is much fuller, the sensible thing to do, which I do most often, is to collapse the back foot rather than bending the front foot, and connect the ball closer to the back leg, while still keeping the head where I need to make contact with the ball.” ~ Virat Kohli

  • At times, Virat has even picked the good length deliveries to drive between extra cover and sweeper cover. Mostly happens at the death overs. 

The Wrist Work

  • Virat has got exceptionally flexible wrists.
  • Moreover, for the wider deliveries, he is able to open the face of the bat and can let the ball go past the right side of the extra covers. 

Now let us look into other types of Off-drive shots that are played often by Virat Kohli.

Cover Drive against Spinners

Virat Kohli cover drive against spinners

How many times have you seen a right-handed batsman making a cover drive of an off-spinner? 

Virat Kohli does it often in style with in a conventional manner. 

The Wrist Work

  • Virat brings in some power to produce the cover drive against spinners.
  • He make full use of his wrist to hit the ball in the cover region.
  • They are followed by the flick of the wrist to complete the shot.
  • Notably, against spinners, he used to complete the shot because of the power he generates. 

The Longer Stride

  • Virat makes a long stride with his front foot, which is something different from what he does to pace bowlers.
  • Adding to the long stride, the upper body coming down, helps him reach the ball when a spinner bowls in a good length.
  • The back foot gets dragged to backward while transferring power to the front leg.
  • At times, the back foot had even gone out of the crease while playing this shot. 

Lofted Cover Drive

Virat Kohli lofted cover drive

  • Virat Kohli plays it rarely, but when he makes this shot, it is very pleasing to watch.
  • In fact, he uses the same technique. Nothing changes except the face of the bat going upwards.
  • The length is the key here. He picks up the good length or just short ball because it gives him room to get under the ball.
  • The Indian skipper’s lofted cover drive of the hammering Mitchell Starc’s delivery for six in the World cup 2019 has mesmerized all the cricketing fans.

Square Drive

Virat Kohli Square Drive
  • This is the toughest dimension of cover drive.
  • Virat has played it sporadically in Test matches, and notedly against Pakistan and Australia in the T20 World cup 2016.
  • Wider balls are picked for this shot along the sweeper cover and point region.
  • Virat allows the ball inside the crease to make the point of contact.
  • The back foot is bent down to get the ball on the sweet spot of the bat.
  • Kohli uses his flexible wrists in making out this shot through the gaps.

Take a look at few scintillating cover drives played by Virat Kohli in cricket:

The Wrap up,

Virat Kohli is an intellectual batsman who loves improvising his shots. Indeed, the square drive, lofted cover drive, and cover drive against spinners are the improvised versions of his cover drive.

It is Virat’s reliable techniques on these shots that have fetched him more options to go all around the offside region. It took him years of practice and determination to showcase cover drive at its best version. 

For all those young cricketers who are reading this, here’s a say from Virat

Driving is all about hitting the ball as close to the body as possible.”

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