There is something special about Virat Kohli when it comes to chasing down big scores. And that special takes another dimension when the opponent is Sri Lanka. Kohli has pulled off some of the most amazing chases under pressure from unbelievable positions. In comparison to some of his earlier knocks, the target wasn't as tough this time round. Still, there was a time when it seemed Sri Lanka might just squeeze in a consolation win. However, Kohli went into repeat mode, and developed yet another knock of extreme brilliance to take India through. The fact that India claimed the series 5-0 was the icing on the cake.
The manner in which Kohli took on Ajantha Mendis was most sensational. The mystery spinner from Lanka had brought the visitors back into the game with some splendid bowling claiming four quick wickets. The losses had put India under extreme pressure, and Mendis' confidence would have been on a real high. Under such circumstances, it was expected that India would have seen off the risk of Mendis, looking to score from the other end. But, expect Kohli to be different. He decided to go after Mendis himself, and such was Kohli's stroke play against the spinner that he rarely put a foot wrong. In the end, Kohli easily won the battle over Mendis, and India the match.
Kohli's self-confidence is what stands out every time he leads India in a chase. He has amazing belief in himself, and doesn't shy away from taking on the best of bowlers. Significantly, he has rarely come second while playing the lead part in chases. Kohli has become a master of chasing down big totals since he paces his innings so beautifully well. Irrespective of the target or the conditions, one would rarely see Kohli scoring at under a run a ball. More, importantly, he does this without taking much risk, manoeuvring the ball around rather well.
The match also saw another brilliant hundred from the other captain in the match --Angelo Mathews. Although it ended up in a losing cause, Mathews' hundred, his first in one-day cricket, was as good as any one can see from a captain. Like Kohli, he also came into bat with his side under a lot of pressure having lost quick wickets. But, Mathews ensured that he left a stamp on the series before it ended. Everyone is aware of Mathews wonderful talent with the bat, which is why it is surprising that it had taken him so long to get to his maiden hundred. Unfortunately, Kohli had something equally special in waiting.
Sri Lanka effectively lost the match when they couldn't break the Kohli-Ambati Rayudu partnership swiftly. Having claimed quick wickets, Sri Lanka were very much in the game midway through the innings, with Mathews again striking at the top. But, India needed one big partnership to get back, and Rayudu and Kohli did the same. Although Lankans fought back again towards the end of the game courtesy some big wickets by Mendis, they failed to get rid of Kohli. As has been the case often in the past, that made the difference.
--By A Cricket Analyst