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Can Virat Kohli pedal on to make this his World Cup?

By Apostrophe Content and Entertainment
Last updated on: February 15, 2015 23:17 IST
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Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli bats on Sunday. Photograph: Vipin Pawar/SolarisImages

The Virat Kohli of the Test matches against Australia was the one looking to see eye to eye with the opposition bowlers. He was the one to give it back with his verbals if necessary, even while he was batting.

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He proved his batting would also do a lot of the talking.

And that affair against the Aussies started at Adelaide in the opening Test match of the Test series.

The refrain is slowly moving towards: give Kohli the Adelaide pitch to bat on and he will give you a century.

Today, for the third time on the tour of Australia, Kohli excelled in Adelaide. He punctured the opposite bowlers with the same disdain he had for the Aussies in the first Test match of their series played here at the start of the tour. And, that in turn led India to a total their bowlers were probably slightly more pleased to defend.

However, if aggression was the buzzword during the Australia Tests, the Kohli that was on show against Pakistan was a different version, a restrained one, and if one may say, after the Border-Gavaskar series, possibly a more matured one.

Virat Kohli of India celebrates after taking a catch to dismiss Shahid Afridi of Pakistan

Virat Kohli celebrates after taking a catch to dismiss Shahid Afridi. Photograph: Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had an interesting thing to say about Kohli's century during the press conference. He admitted the surface wasn't the easiest to bat on and the Pakistan used their strength, their fast bowlers really well in the start of the game.

Dhoni noted: "I felt after we lost Rohit, the partnership with Virat and Shikhar was really crucial because the ball was doing a bit."

"If you see the Pakistan team, their strength is as of now fast bowling, and I felt they bowled really well. Once the partnership was going, after that, once we got the start, I think Kohli & Dhawan played some really good shots against the spinners to put the pressure back on the bowlers, and once we had good partnership and with wickets in hand and with players like Raina who were about to come in, I felt we did really good to get 300 runs on the board."

The two-paced pitch and the excellent opposition fast bowling were two factors that made Kohli's century special. But there was one other factor that only added to his quality.

There has been a lot of confusion in the Indian ranks about Kohli's position in the batting order. His own favourite is number three but the lack of form for Shikhar Dhawan and the injury to Ravindra Jadeja has forced the skipper MS Dhoni's hand in some ways. It was still surprising that the team's best batsman was made to go through a period of doubt.

Virat Kohli of India celebrates as he reaches his century on Sunday

Virat Kohli of India celebrates as he reaches his century on Sunday. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

What could be said in favour of Dhoni is that Kohli might have himself volunteered to step down for the sake of his team but one way or the other, the batting position should have been fixed way before it finally got done to allow the side's premier batsman to think through his strategy.

Of course Dhoni did clarify during the press conference, that while it wasn't a matter of allocating a particular batting position to a certain batsman, this was more applicable to only batsmen coming after the top three.

That was after Kohli was batted at the number four slot in three ODIs in the Carlton tri-series.

It seems like it hasn't mattered any bit to Kohli.

He did not have a great ODI tri-series in Australia. It seems like that also did matter to Kohli.

Much like how his failures in the Test series in England hadn't mattered to the Indian vice-captain during the Australia Tests either.

Kohli showed in the Australia Tests where a good start to the series could end up for him.

He had begun the 2011 World Cup with a century too, but the form had tapered off after that; this time, he could just be that man to watch out for now that he has gotten that first century away. Can Team India take advantage of that though?

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