It’s the eve of an India-Australia ODI series and Virat Kohli is at his pragmatic-best. And why shouldn’t he be. He was one of the many batting beneficiaries against the same opposition four years ago, when 3,274 runs were scored, a total of 359 was chased down, a 52-ball hundred (fastest for an Indian in ODIs) was achieved and a countless sighs were heard on seven bowlers’ graveyards strewn all over the country. It was four weeks of relentless hell for the men with the ball in hand. And there is a mild anticipation of a repeat show, starting on Sunday.
But Kohli isn’t losing sleep over such a possibility. Behind closed doors, India seem to have huddled and spoken about the chance of such cruel fate for bowlers again, but may have also discussed damage-limitation techniques, the heart of which lies in being realistic.
“Look, if it is happening on both sides [to India and Australia bowlers], then obviously you have to understand the wickets are really good to play. And even saving 10-15 runs can actually make a difference. If the wicket is good to bat on, then you are setting expectations that could not be achieved,” Kohli said on Saturday (September 16) in a press conference.
The Indian captain also backed his approach by citing the cascading effect of T20s on the other formats of the game.
“The game is moving so rapidly that even in Test cricket, runs are scored at four an over without teams losing too many wickets. The skill level of the batsman has changed according to how the game is moving on so quickly, with T20 coming on. The effect of that is going to be on the other formats as well.
“You need to be realistic on how many runs can be scored on this pitch and how can we give less for us to give an advantage when we bat,” Kohli opined.
The consistent nudge to the scoring upper limit in ODIs has only paved the way for bowling strategies to come with a tweaked framework that accounts for the game’s rapid evolution. Kohli is one with such an ideology, and the impracticability of seeking regular breakthroughs, but fully expects his bowlers to be ‘smart’ in patches.
“I don’t think you can pressurise the bowlers too much in that regard of containing big scores. Yeah, I mean, with the two new balls, especially in the subcontinent, it becomes difficult for the bowlers to get wickets at regular intervals. They just have to be smart in patches to get the total down,” he said.