How Virat Kohli made a statement with one shot when facing fast bowler Kagiso Rabada | Ipl News

IPL 2024: Kohli shot vs PBKS

“I couldn’t look up because I was just not used to being called my name for two months,” Virat Kohli would say about how it took time to get used to the crowd chants after a two-month break out of the country for the birth of his second child. “I was telling the guys that when we came back, the voices back home felt that much louder. And then immediately you hear these loud noises and then you’re back in it all again.”

Then, he would say something that brought the house down at the Chinnaswamy stadium. “I know my name is nowadays quite attached to just promoting the game in many parts of the world when it comes to T20 cricket. But, I’ve still got it, I guess,” he would say with his face creasing with a big smile.

He certainly got it, all right, as evidenced in a moment of brilliance against Kagiso Rabada in the third over of the chase against Punjab Kings. It was Rabada’s first ball, and Kohli had decided he had to go irrespective of the nature of the ball. But he wasn’t in slog-mode, as occasionally he can get in T20s swiping across the line, but in a classier Kohli avatar.

He dashed down the track and even here with a tweak. At times, he can take large strides in an effort to get close to the ball which would end up tripping his balance. Here, though, they were shorter initially, ala Sachin Tendulkar’s charges to pacers. The whole effort seemed to hold his shape and yet relatively close to the ball as possible. Going by how he was a touch outside leg, it seems he also had the direction etched in his mind and by extension (correctly) judging the line of the Rabada delivery.

There it was on a back of length around off stump, but Kohli was more than ready by his initial movements. He wasn’t still upto the pitch of the ball – he made no frantic effort to do that anyways, but held his balance and as the ball kicked up, he was in a position as if it were a full-length ball. He also seemed decisive in his mind that considering the length, it will have to be an aerial hit – and he scythed it up and over extra cover, with his left leg dangling high in the air for that extra last-instant power-push that was needed for that stroke.

But it was the reaction of his team-mate Cameron Green, the Australian batsman at the dugout, that captured the skills needed for that shot. Even as he clapped, he turned to a team-mate next to him and pursed his lips in admiration – a silent ‘wow’ couldn’t have been gestured better than that. The shot needed the background musical scream of ‘whaddaplayaaa’ from Tony Grieg, the soundtrack composer of Tendulkar.

Festive offer

It could well have ended the second ball of the first over, though, before the gem against Rabada. It was the oldest Kohli trap in the world; a length ball on the 5th and 6th stump line, slanted across him by the left-handed Sam Curran and Kohli reached out for a drive, only to edge it to slips where Jonny Bairstow, amidst a torturous India trip that has extended over two months, clanged it.

But it also pushed Kohli into adjusting his technique immediately. For that dropped chance, he hadn’t moved forward at all – had just sort of vaguely leaned forward to chase the ball. From that moment on, he began to start moving down the track – either a walk, as he would do to Curran next ball to cream him through extra cover or run down as he would do to Rabada and Arshdeep Singh.

“You have to as they know I play cover drive pretty well, they are not going to allow any gaps,” he would say about his decision to go aerial against Rabada. “So you need to get close to the ball to negate the movement.”

It’s to the “beautiful” silence overseas during his paternity break that he will return to in his post-match talk with the broadcasters Jio Cinema.

“It was beautiful. It’s an amazing experience to just be another person on the road and not be recognised and just carry on about life that normally people would on a daily basis … We were not in the country. We were at a place where people were not recognising us. Just time together as a family, just to feel normal for two months. For me, for us as a family, it was a surreal experience… I couldn’t have been more grateful to God for the opportunity that I got to spend time with my family.”

And now he is back in front of screaming fans continuing his quest which has lasted more than a decade now: to make RCB lift the IPL trophy.

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