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Cricket news - Virat Kohli's day of two halves

Kohli hit his career-best 94 not out in India's successful chase of 208 in Hyderabad.

Kohli hit his career-best 94 not out in India's successful chase of 208 in Hyderabad.

Even superheroes are not infallible nor undefeatable, and will have to sometimes find their way out. It's a theme that isn't often brought into the spotlight. If you'd look for a cricketing equivalent of the finale of Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight', then maybe Virat Kohli's Hyderabad knock in the first T20I against West Indies could feature as an option. Even Kohli wouldn't advise youngsters watching to pick up anything from the first half of his career-best T20I score.

For starters, India were chasing 208 after a collective West Indian batting effort had sent the home team on a leather hunt. Then came India's turn to bat with Kohli, currently one of the world's best batsmen, in the middle. After an unbeaten knock of 94 off 50 deliveries, that too in a chase, phrases like 'another day in the office' or 'a walk in the park' are bound to follow if it was someone taking a casual glance at the scorecard.

It was anything but that. And as Kohli would later tell Star Sports, it was a knock - at least the first half of it - that he wouldn't recommend to the youngsters. Why this disclaimer from the Indian captain after acing another chase which made him the possessor of the most Man of the Match awards in T20Is?

Walking out to the crease in the fourth over after Rohit Sharma whipped one straight to the fielder in the deep, Kohli's innings was a struggle from the outset. It took him until his fifth delivery to get off the mark, by which time he had inside-edged a couple of times and missed a pull by a long distance to a delivery pitched outside off. Apart from a couple of boundaries scored off the spinners which Kohli was in control of, the Indian captain wasn't really in his elements.

Top edges, inside edges, misjudgement of shots, nearly dragging the ball back on, or arguing with the umpires for no-balls (for height) and wides, it was an uncharacteristic Kohli innings. A top-edged six off Jason Holder had brought up India's 100 in the 12th over, which was Kohli's first maximum. While Rahul was pacing his innings well at the other end, bringing up an important half-century, Kohli appeared all over the place and was just trying too hard without achieving the desired result.

"All the young batsmen watching, don't follow the first half of my innings. That was really bad and I was trying to hit too hard. It was just about keeping up to the game because I didn't want to put KL (Rahul) under pressure, so tried to strike at 140 at least, but I couldn't get going properly," Kohli admitted after the game.

It was only after Rahul's dismissal that Kohli truly took full control of his game, and when he did it was West Indies who were all over the place. A confrontation with Kesrick Williams while running between the wickets had Kohli all riled up and the heat was felt by Holder as the No. 3 punched a slower delivery with ease over the cover boundary. Williams was dealt with too - a boundary that just about cleared the bowler's head followed by the famed wristy whip over the leg-side fence and imitation games (notebook celebration), as Kohli set about ticking boxes.

It was a quick and neat transformation. The first 25 deliveries of Kohli's innings yielded 26 runs in what was clearly a struggle. But he was quick to learn from his mistakes and concentrate on his strengths, and the outcome of that was a spectacular show that culminated in the Indian skipper's career best knock and a relatively comfortable Indian victory.

"I analysed what went wrong and played accordingly in the second half of my innings. I was trying to hold my shape and realised I am not a slogger, so I tried to rely on my timing. Whenever I play T20 cricket I am not someone who comes to the ground to hit the ball in the air to entertain the crowd.

"I focus on doing the job. Our strength as a team is to strike in the latter half of the innings. I don't want to change my game too much because I play all three formats. I just want to contribute in all three formats, that's what I want to do. I don't want to be a format specialist," said Kohli.

Flexibility and unpredictability is what Kohli advocated as keys to success in the T20 format, along with one batsman needing "to take the responsibility for batting long". He played the protagonist on all those fronts, the eventuality of it being another act of the Batman coming to Gotham's rescue again.

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