Virat Kohli’s astonishing form with the bat has continued as the IPL reaches its halfway stage. At the time of writing, the Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper is the tournament’s second highest run scorer with 381 runs scored at an average of 76.20. The only man to have scored more than Kohli at this juncture is Sunrisers Hyderabad’s David Warner who has five more runs having played seven matches to Kohli’s six. Analysing the two players’ performances alongside Kohli’s team mate AB de Villiers reveals some interesting trends about how each batsman accumulates their runs.
What has stood out during Kohli’s scores of 75, 79, 33, 80, 100* and 14 is the way he has used his feet to both the spinners and pace bowlers. 87 of his 381 runs (22.83%) have come from shots played coming down the track, scored at a strike rate of 164.15. By contrast, Warner has only come down the pitch on five occasions across his seven innings, scoring just four runs. The Australian opener prefers instead to play aggressively on the back foot – 202 of his 386 runs (52.33%) have been scored from back foot shots at a strike rate of 165.57.
Kohli has had great success batting with AB de Villiers – the pair have put on stands of 157, 107, 59 and 155 in this campaign – and RCB’s number three currently lies third in the tournament’s top scorers with 316. Like Warner, de Villiers has been reluctant to go on the charge as our data shows him to have only played seven shots after advancing, scoring six runs in the process. Instead, de Villiers has attacked primarily on the front foot; using his ability to score all around the ground, the South African has plundered 164 runs (51.9% of all his runs) from that position at a strike rate of 159.22.
This contrast in approach between Kohli and de Villiers is perhaps a factor behind their success as a pair. Bowling attacks will struggle to find the correct lengths to bowl if a batsman’s footwork disrupts their rhythm; a problem only compounded when each batsman adopts such different methods of run scoring.
Despite Kohli’s scintillating form up to this point, his method of walking towards the bowler has proved his undoing on two occasions – significantly his two lowest scores of the IPL. Against Mumbai Indians, Kohli advanced on three occasions but was twice beaten by the away swing of Tim Southee and ultimately holed out failing to get to the pitch of a Krunal Pandya delivery. Then, in his most recent outing against Sunrisers he was unable to get on top of an off cutter from Mustafizur Rahman and picked out backward point.
Kohli’s approach is unlikely to change in light of these relative failures, and nor should it. However, they do offer a glimmer of hope to bowling sides in the remainder of the tournament that a player’s greatest strength can sometimes be their weakness.