In fact in ODIs, Kohli, true to his tag, has scored 7039 runs batting second at an astounding average of 68.33, much better than his aggregate of 4828 at 49.77 batting first. In India’s previous tour Down Under in 2018-19, Kohli scored a brilliant hundred in a successful chase against the hosts, when his 104 helped India chase down a big target of 299 in a last-over thriller in Adelaide.
But one knock, earlier in his career, which showed the world his penchant for a good run chase was in match number 11 of the Commonwealth Bank tri-series ODI against Sri Lanka in Hobart in 2012.
It was one of the finest ODI innings by a batsman in Australia and as they say the rest is history.
Here’s a recap of that thrilling match which saw India chase down a huge score, thanks largely to a chasing masterclass by a 23 year old Virat:
On that day, 28th February, 2012, India skipper MS Dhoni invited Sri Lanka to bat first after winning the toss.
Sri Lankan openers started cautiously, adding 49 runs in 12 overs, before Ravindra Jadeja provided India their first breakthrough in the form of Mahela Jayawardene (22). But what followed was total domination by Lankan batsmen Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, as the duo put on a 200-run stand for the second wicket in 31.2 overs. Dilshan remained unbeaten on 160, off 165 balls, while Sangakkara contributed 105 off 87 balls as they powered Sri Lanka to a massive 320 for 4 in 50 overs.
The task became more daunting for India, considering they needed to chase the target in 40 overs to earn a bonus point and stay alive in the series. So, the real target for India was not 321 in 50 overs, but 321 in 40 overs — that’s 8 runs per over from the start of the chase.
India needed all their batsmen to fire together to achieve what looked like an improbable run chase. They needed a strong start to set the momentum and they got exactly that as openers Virender Sehwag (30 off 16) and Sachin Tendulkar (39 off 30) added 54 runs in just 6.2 overs before the former was removed by Farveez Maharoof. Tendulkar too fell soon after in the 10th over with India’s score reading 86/2 in 9.2 overs.
That’s when Kohli came to the crease, with India ‘actually’ needing 235 runs in 30.4 overs for the bonus point. He had Gautam Gambhir at the other end for company. The 23-year old rising star was in the zone though as he middled the ball consistently and found boundaries at will. At the other end, Gambhir played the perfect second fiddle, as the left-hander kept rotating the strike without much trouble.
They kept the pressure on the Lankan bowlers as well as the fielders, who were struggling to put a lid on the run flow. When Gambhir departed in the 28th over, after playing a handy 63-run knock off 64 balls and after adding a valuable 115 runs in just 18.1 overs with Kohli, India still needed 120 runs in 75 balls to earn the ‘all-important’ bonus point.
Suresh Raina joined Kohli in the middle and the left-hander made sure the momentum never slowed down for the Indians as he scored a quick-fire 40 off 24 balls, with the help of a six and three fours. The victory was well within their reach, but the real target was the bonus point. With Raina as an able partner, Kohli showcased an array of shots not seen from him before in Australia and when he targeted Lasith Malinga in the 35th over for the final push the writing was on the wall.
Kohli clobbered 24 runs off Malinga in the 35th over, as he flicked one for a maximum followed by four consecutive fours. Kohli’s unbeaten brilliant knock of 133 took India home in 36.4 overs — India’s final score was 321 for 3, as they registered a commanding seven-wicket victory and earned the bonus point.
Kohli timed his innings to perfection, as he rotated the strikes with quick running between the wickets while smashing two sixes and 16 fours and scoring his runs at a strike rate of almost 155.
Kohli has five ODI hundreds in Australia so far. But this one will probably be counted as his finest so far Down Under.