Virat Kohli once again showed he is the lone all-season cricketer. Photos: Star File
Virat Kohli lets his bat do the talking most times. Yet, on Friday, after India defeated South Africa to enter the ICC World Twenty20 final, the dashing batsman gave plenty of insight into how much he has matured.
When Kohli exploded onto the international scene, he was described as arrogant and one who had a lot of attitude. In a sport where every moment of a star's life is under scrutiny, Kohli has been scanned for every minute detail. His mannerisms were watched, his body language was analysed and when he showed his middle finger to the crowd in the Sydney Test two years ago, he was criticised.
Such mannerisms come naturally for a player whose expressions are not limited to just wielding the bat. Yet, the maturity which one sees from Kohli these days is admirable. The way he has fashioned incredible chases for India in the ODIs is well known, but the solid batting he has exhibited in Bangladesh has caught the eye.
By Kohli's own admission, this tournament has seen the rise of three spinners -- R Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja -- which has helped India win matches. Kohli mentioned all this on Friday and played down his own contribution.
Yet, for someone who has scored three half-centuries in this World T20, it is definitely something to feel proud of. The way Kohli paced his knock against South Africa was worth watching.
There was not a single boundary in his first 20 runs as he showed the importance of taking singles and rotating the strike.
As the innings progressed and Kohli started putting pressure on the South African bowling, even someone like Dale Steyn wilted.
Finally, when Kohli hit the winning boundary, it signalled another super effort.
Someone like Kohli, who has scored 19 ODI hundreds, wouldn't really care to rate each innings. That he picked Friday's 72 as his best knock in the T20 format was not without reason.
Given the kind of pressure on the Indian team, which has not done well on away tours, it was important to get past the Proteas.
In the past, Kohli has been seen as someone in a hurry, wanting to finish off a match. Whether it is the sheer experience of playing plenty of cricket or growing more mature, Kohli now bats not just for the thrill but to script a win in a solid manner.
Again, he gave credit to the openers (Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane) for a good start on Friday and also spoke of how the Indian bowling has performed well in the tournament. As regards his preparation for big matches, Kohli talked of how he prepares and does not bat too long at nets.