Virat Kohli plays longest innings of his ODI career: An ode to his fitness

first_imgVirat Kohli scores an ODI hundred every sixth match. So when he smashed a classic 160 not out against South Africa to script India’s 124-run victory in the third ODI in Cape Town, you would have wondered what was really so new about it?Another Kohli hundred, another ODI win for India. Par for course, is it not? What else is there to say for a man who scores hundreds for fun?Well, there is plenty.Apart from a plethora of records Kohli broke on Wednesday, he played out his longest ODI innings and ran 100 runs of 160 runs. What was really impressive about the knock was that Kohli did not look at his fluent best when he walked out to bat after Rohit Sharma fell to Kagiso Rabada in the first over.Kohli, who came to Cape Town on the back of a majestic 112 and a polished 46*, was happy to take the backseat as Shikhar Dhawan tore into the attack. However, the Indian captain started taking toll shortly after and ensured his team was always in the hunt for a big total even as Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav perished in short time.Moreover, Kohli later admitted he had to battle cramps when he was in his 90s. It was a hot day in Cape Town and running could not have been easy.But Kohli, who hits 4.21 boundaries on an average in every ODI, ran as many as 75 singles, 11 doubles and one three. He hit 12 boundaries and two sixes.advertisementIt was also Kohli’s longest innings, 159 balls. Nearly six years ago, he had faced 148 balls to score a scintillating 183 against Pakistan at the Asia Cup.Nearly 30 now, it was that much harder for Kohli to push himself but the innings was an ode to his fitness. A strong advocate of fitness, Kohli has insisted training hard has made all the difference.”I will be 30 this year. The decision was in terms of extending the quality of cricket you want to play at an older age as well. That is my intention. I want to play this kind of cricket even when I am 34-35,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference.”That’s why I train so much. I am the guy who likes to play with intensity and once that is gone I don’t know what I am going to do. I try to protect that and I try to train as much as I can, keep a check on my diet. Those things pay off on days like these when team needs it. You stand up and pull through as I said amazing things happen when you are thinking of the team throughout. As an athlete you crave for days like these. These are the kind of days that give you satisfaction as a batsman and as a Team India player. I am really happy to contribute to the mood that is in the dressing-room right now,” he said.Kohli was among the busiest cricketers last year but he did not let the burden of international pressure and the hectic schedule bog him down. He finished 2017 with 2818 international runs, 11 hundreds including three double hundreds in Test cricket. (India’s ODI wins in South Africa prove we can travel well: Tendulkar)He of course later said even he could be tired and needed a break but that was to be expected.However, Kohli, after a short break during which he got married, returned to the international fold and resumed business as usual. After a couple of low scores in the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town, he roared back with a superb 153 in Centurion and two gutsy knocks on a difficult Wanderers pitch – he was by far the best batsman in the Test series and finished as the highest run-scorer.In the ODIs, Kohli is once again miles ahead of the rest with 318 runs – he was the top scorer in ODIs last year with 1460 runs and could well finish 2018 on top. Given his dedication to fitness and training and a strict diet, it would need a very brave observer to rule that out.last_img read more