Virat Kohli would be eyeing ICC Hall of Famer Mahela Jayawardena’s record as the most prolific run-scorer across T20 World Cups when India take on South Africa in one of their most crucial Super 12 outings here later on Sunday, with the charismatic batter just 28 runs away from the landmark.
While the legendary Sri Lankan cricketer has 1,016 runs from 31 matches in T20 World Cups, Kohli is on 989 runs from just 23 games. India skipper Rohit Sharma is currently fourth in the list with 904 runs from 35 T20 World Cup games.
Following a lean phase earlier in the year, the 33-year-old Kohli found his groove in the Asia Cup in the UAE and in the bilateral series leading up to the event against Australia and South Africa, and blossomed in the game against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 23.
Kohli has attributed his success to fitness and meticulous preparation, and in the build-up to the tournament he had said those are the two most important things for him.
“Fitness for me is probably more important than having cricket practice. I honestly feel that having a fit body makes you think better as well,” Kohli had said in the build-up to the event. “So, it could help people in their work, sport, anything. When you’re fit, you just want to start your day well, look forward to doing a lot more, on an everyday basis rather than just dragging yourself through the day.”
Kohli is also dubbed ‘Master of the Chase’ and his T20 World Cup scores while chasing fortify the point.
In chases across the five T20 World Cup campaigns, Kohli has made 541 runs at a strike rate of 135.92. Dismissed only twice in his 10 knocks, Kohli’s latest match-winning chase against Pakistan means his average has soared to a staggering 270.50. Outside of an unbeaten two runs against Scotland coming in at the end of their winning chase in 2021, Kohli’s lowest score is 23 (27) in Nagpur back in 2016.
Former New Zealand cricketer Ian Smith recently spoke highly about Kohli’s unbeaten 82 after his chase against Pakistan.
“He’s a genius, the way he plays, and he’s a genius in the way he’s worked the game out. And he’s a genius in that he knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and when to push the go button,” said Smith to ICC.
“When he finished, we had shots of him kneeling down and punching the pitch surface, punching it to relieve the pressure on himself.”
As for Kohli’s record chase, a failure against South Africa may just be delaying the record. When asked on Kohli’s form, and the record beckoning, Proteas pace bowler Anrich Nortje re-iterated South Africa’s primary focus — to continue on their winning ways after the big win over Bangladesh.
“(We’re) focused on what we have to do. That’s all,” said Nortje.