The birth of a superstar
Game 11 of a trination series in Australia is being played at Hobart. India’s past four games read tie, loss, loss, loss, loss. Coming into this match against Sri Lanka, India needed the bonus point to just stay alive in the series.
India win the toss and chose to field, meaning that they will know the bonus point equation when they come out to bat. The bowlers fail to deliver. Dilshan gets to 160*, Sangakkara smashes a century off just 84 balls and Sri Lanka walk off the field smiling with 320 on the board. India need to chase the total within 40 overs to secure a bonus point. To put things in context, India has just suffered 3 back-to-back losses while chasing, all of which were sub-300 targets and their last outing saw them being bowled out for 165. 321 in 40 overs is perhaps a bit more than daunting.
None of this seems to matter to Kohli as he walks out to bat. At that stage, India need 8 runs an over. Sachin and Sehwag are back in the hut. He proceeds to make a mockery of the chase. 16 Fours, 2 Sixes take him to 133* off just 86 balls. One sequence against Malinga, considered the world’s best bowler at the time, reads 2-6-4-4-4-4-1-4-4. That’s 33 runs in 9 balls.
Kohli has taken the challenge head-on and got India not only to 321 in 40 overs, but wrapped the chase up within 36.4 overs. With the bonus point safely in the bag, India live another day. Kohli’s knock is compared with Desert Storm. A superstar is born.
So why is this my favourite ODI Innings? You can argue it was an unimportant series, India didn’t make the finals eventually, SL had a sub-par bowling attack, Kohli got a couple of reprieves – all of which are undoubtedly true. This knock will likely never make a Cricinfo “best ODI innings ever” list for those exact reasons. This innings, though, embodied Kohli’s confidence and self-belief. Kohli believed no target was too big and in the process redefined the art of an Indian chase. The sheer mental strength he showed under pressure makes this my favourite ODI innings.
Enjoy the video of Kohli’s 133* v Sri Lanka here.