Virat Kohli said he is ideally suited to the thrill of the chase after his 33rd ODI century plotted a path to victory against South Africa in Durban.
Virat Kohli revealed why he loves to chase down targets after hitting a superb century at Kingsmead to put India 1-0 up in the six-match series.
South Africa – currently ranked No.1 in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Rankings, one place ahead of India – posted 269/8, with their captain Faf du Plessis (120) leading the way. But his opposite number made short work of the target, Kohli scoring 112 in a six-wicket victory.
India's captain has now scored 20 ODI centuries at an average of 65.84 when batting second, with 18 of those hundreds coming in wins, at an average of 94.04.
"It’s easier [to chase]," said Kohli. "You can break down a total when you have a number on the board, you know exactly what you want to do against which bowler, and it sort of suits my game-plan. I have a lot of energy and I would rather use it there, using my head as to where the game is going and planning it. It’s a lot of fun. Watching from the outside I get very nervous. It suits me well."
Kohli celebrated with real emotion upon bringing up three figures, delighted to put his side on the front foot in what promises to be a thrilling series. "I hadn’t scored an ODI hundred in South Africa before today so it was quite special and to be able to understand that you’re winning the game in the first game of the series, it always counts a lot. Starting off on a positive note obviously gives everyone a boost in the changing room. It will be a very special memory."
He also paid tribute to Ajinkya Rahane, who made 79 as part of a third-wicket stand of 189 with Kohli, an ODI record at the venue. "Myself and Jinks was the game-changing partnership. I was very, very happy for Jinks as well. He capitalised on that No.4 spot which we’ve been wanting to sort out for a while now. He’s a top-class player.
"We understand fast bowling is going to be a big part of this series and he was confident having played well in that last Test match [in Johannesburg, when Rahane scored a crucial 48 in India's second innings]. He has a good technique to take on the fast bowlers and it was wonderful to watch from the other end."
Chase master Kohli strikes again! India's captain hits 112 to help his side take a 1-0 ODI series lead, beating hosts South Africa by 6 wickets in Durban! #SAvIND scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/EnNjmKO3hw pic.twitter.com/ZG85fGNuIW— ICC (@ICC) February 1, 2018
Reflecting on his side's defeat, du Plessis said South Africa simply hadn't put enough runs on the board. "We didn’t bat well enough. I reckon we were 50, 60 or 70 runs short. The all-rounders batted really well – Chris [Morris, who scored 37] had a good partnership with me – but as a batting unit we were very disappointed with that total. We know at Kingsmead you have to put a good total on the board first innings and it puts some pressure on the team batting second. When you’re chasing five runs an over, it’s pretty easy.
"I tried everything – field placements, different tactics – but Virat and Rahane played really well. They had all the answers. It’s up to us to make sure we take the learning from this. We have to bounce back with a nice, positive performance."
The two teams meet again in the second ODI in Centurion on Sunday.