When Virat's surprise move caught Lanka cold

When Virat Kohli sent out a message to Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan to take an early batting power play (from overs 24-28) in the first ODI, it caught the Sri Lankans by surprise, as admitted by Tillakaratne Dilshan here on Wednesday.

 But taking early batting power play isn’t new to Kohli. In the 12 ODIs that he had led before Sunday’s game against Sri Lanka, India had opted for five-over field restriction on four occasions before the commencement of the 36th over (the batting power play has to be completed by the 40th over) which is generally the practice with most captains, including MS Dhoni. Only on one occasion against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup early this year, India failed to make most of that phase.    

   India raked in 62 runs against Sri Lanka in Cuttack during those five overs and Kohli explained his rationale behind his decision. “It’s more an instinctive thing,” he pointed out. “We are playing a sport which has no break and if I instinctively feel something needs to be done I end up doing it rather than not doing it and sort of thinking later that I should have tried it. You rather try and make a mistake and learn from it than not trying anything at all,” explained.  

 Dilshan acknowledged that it was a good move by India. “We didn’t expect them to do that at that stage and it was a surprise for us. But they (the Indian openers) were batting well and they were well-set at that moment. I think that’s when you have to take batting power play because both the batsmen would be going really well. It was a good move from them and I think we can learn something from it.”

 Kohli also pointed out that with both Rahane and Dhawan on the cusp of their respective half-centuries, it was an ideal situation to ask for power play as they were compelled to go on the offensive instead of slowing down to reach those milestones. “Especially in a young side, people can tend to sort of slow down near a milestone. Obviously it’s understandable. Initially when you are playing well, you want to make every innings count. It’s all about giving them that comfort factor and a bit of confidence from the
 dressing room that ‘we are backing you, you just go out there and play positive cricket.’

 So they stopped thinking about whether they were close to a milestone and eventually team’s motive comes into play. That’s what we exactly wanted to do without actually telling them that this is what we want. In future as well if we have situations where I feel instinctively something needs to be done, I would be rather happy to take a decision than analyse it later,” he offered.

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