(Image Courtesy: Twitter/ICC)
Imagine Oshane Thomas running in and bowling at 143kmph. He is bowling a short length ball outside off stump. It's just wide enough to free the arms. And that ball is steeping through to Shai Hope. Imagine any player you like and think what shot he would play.
Had it been Rohit Sharma, it might be a square cut over point or might be an uppercut over gully or in between gully and third man by Hardik Pandya. For MS Dhoni, it might have been a Forehand slap over point standing on his left leg.
BUT!. But, it's VIRAT KOHLI.
Virat Kohli comes in after an early wicket as Rohit Sharma was adjudged LBW by the third umpire. He has scored three consecutive fifties so far in this tournament at an average tad above 60. He gets off the mark on the third ball he faces which was short, wide and outside off and was cut fiercely through point and gully for four. That's the kind of form he has been in this tournament and a century was overdue.
Cut short to the second ball of the eleventh over of the Indian innings. Oshane bowls that ball that's 143kmph as in described earlier. Virat Kohli does his formal forward press, realises the length is not full enough and pulls back the right leg ever slightly so keeping the left leg firm on ground in order to maintain the balance and on doing so transferring the weight on to the back foot, drives a short ball that's just about his chest high over cover region with his hands in the exact motion of a cover drive.
That shot had an orgasmic effect on me. The more I watched it again and again, the more the high I was. I mean, who drives a chest high ball with that perfect arc and elbow position over covers!. That's MADNESS!. He's gotta be freaking nuts to do that. But, there's a reason why that label on his MRF bat sticker reads "Genius"!
That's what Virat Kohli is!. He's a freaking Genius with the bat!.
It makes me go down dumbstruck and get depressed again and again on how easy he made that shot look. He had played similar shots over deep cover. But those are slaps over cover point. And that's a fair shot to play. But NOT THIS. Not in the way his elbow went and that arc he maintained through the shot like he does while playing a cover drive blindfolded.
I watched all those four half-centuries on loop before starting to write this. He has played quite a few excellent shots so far. He lofted Mitchell Starc over extra cover for a six when he was too full. There were a couple of extra cover drives of Mohammed Amir. One along the ground and one over the infield. Those three shots were the closest to what he played today. But all those shots came after crossing his half-century.
Today what he played was only the seventh ball he was facing and it was off the back foot. And that is why for me, this shot of Oshane, driving a short ball over covers is "The Virat Kohli Shot of the Tournament" of all the shots he has played so far in this world cup.
It might look as if I am exaggerating. But go back and watch that shot a few times and think whether any other Batsman in the world would have played that shot to that ball with that perfection. You might just agree with me.
Also, the way he has got out so far tells a story. Against Australia, he got out to a similar ball while slapping it over deep cover but couldn't maintain shape and his weight was falling over on his front foot. Against Pakistan, he declared himself out, while the entire world felt otherwise. Against Afghanistan, he got a long hop outside off stump which bounced a tad more than he anticipated and edged a cut short to short third man. Even today it was a long hop from Jason Holder which didn't bounce much and he ended up pulling it to short mid-wicket.
Maybe, the best is yet to come.
Because it's VIRAT KOHLI. And with him, we never know what more he is going to offer us.
TAKE A BOW!. GENIUS!.
Disclaimer: Please don't try playing this shot, while you playing in a match and get out only to blame Virat Kohli.
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