Virat Kohli was satisfied to have found the right ‘balance’ in the second T20 International against West Indies which India won by eight runs at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday. The former India captain returned to form with a brilliant 41-ball 52, shutting down all his critics.
The right-handed batter was having a lean patch with scores of 8, 18 and 0 in the ODI series against the Windies, and 17 in the opening T20 at the same venue, something that wasn’t expected from a player of Kohli’s caliber.
Coming at No.3 after the dismissal of Ishan Kishan in the second over, the urgency to get runs under his belt was clearly visible as Kohli came striding out to bat. Unlike the previous matches in the series, he looked composed and clear in mind for the job at hand and was a man on a mission.
Kohli flicked Akean Hosein for a boundary off the second ball he faced before ending the over with another four, this time with a paddle sweep. With Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav dismissed cheaply in quick succession, Kohli took over the mantle and played the anchor’s role, propelling India towards a big total.
“I was happy with my intent that I wanted to play my shots. Sometimes you play with responsibility over a period of time, you tend to ask if you want to play the big shots early. You don’t want to be reckless but at the same time, you want to play your shots,” Kohli said in the mid-innings break.
“That is the balance you strive for. Today I was happy with that balance. The wicket was gripping in the middle, so if we are smart with the ball, we have got enough,” said Kohli, who missed the record of highest run-getter in this format by three runs on Friday. He will have to wait till the third T20 on Sunday.
Like the previous game, West Indies’ Roston Chase looked dangerous on this pitch that was gripping a little in the middle overs. But Kohli ensured that the scoreboard keep ticking as he cut, pulled and took the aerial route en route to his second fifty at the iconic Eden Gardens. The 33-year-old reached his 30th T20I fifty with a six, thanks to Jason Holder who spilled it over the fence.
This was also Kohli’s first fifty since the 57 versus Pakistan in the T20 World Cup on October 24 last year. Kohli currently has 3296 runs while New Zealander Martin Guptill leads the table with 3299 runs.
Kohli was finally undone by a Chase delivery while trying to play across the line with the ball breaching the defence.
Thereafter it was Rishabh Pant and Venkatesh Iyer (33 from 18 balls) show. The young batters took on the likes of Kieron Pollard and Romario Shepherd in their 76-run partnership from 35 balls. Pant (52 off 28 balls) brought up his third fifty in T20Is with a double in the penultimate delivery of the innings, taking just 27 balls to get to the mini-milestone.
Kohli also heaped praise on Pant and Iyer. “Special mention to Rishabh and Venky the way they batted, gave us those extra 10 runs in the end and hats off to that partnership,” he said. India finished at 186/5 in 20 overs. In reply, West Indies were restricted at 178/3 despite powerful fifties by Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell.