Cricket

Virat Kohli’s Adelaide record could be bad news for England in the T20 World Cup semi-final

Date: November 10 Weather: 08:00 GMT Event: adelaide
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and app; Live text commentary with clips on the BBC Sport website and app

Virat Kohli is not used to this.

Cricket’s biggest star, despite being the tournament’s leading run-scorer, is not the name on everyone’s lips ahead of Thursday’s T20 World Cup semi-final against England.

Instead, it is Suryakumar Yadav, the man they call SKY.

Suryakumar has scored 225 runs in this tournament, 21 fewer than Kohli, but has done so with an astounding strike rate of 193.96.

When England captain Jos Buttler spoke at his pre-match press conference, he was asked how he would stop Suryakumar, not Kohli.

It has meant that Kohli, for once, has receded into the background.

It can be debated whether the 34-year-old will enjoy some time out of the spotlight. Kohli, however, should not be underestimated.

His extraordinary batting talents are well known. He has already shown them in this tournament when he guided India to victory over Pakistan in impressive fashion at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

But at the Adelaide Oval his record reaches a sphere that few can match. It is the place he describes as feeling “at home”.

“I love playing on this field,” Kohli saidexternal link. “From the nets in the back, as soon as I walk in, I feel at home.”

Kohli and Adelaide go back.

It’s the ground where the slightly rounder 23-year-old Kohli roared as he celebrated his first century in Test cricket.

Kohli took 14 innings to reach his first Test century

He returned as a world superstar almost two years later and hit a hundred in every inning, frustrating Australia for over nine hours with two shots.

It’s an unfair comparison, but Kohli has more international centuries at the Adelaide Oval than the great Don Bradman, whose statue stands behind one of the stands.

Across all formats, Kohli is averaging 75.58 on the ground, with two hundred one-day internationals to add to his three in four Tests.

And in two Twenty20 matches he has never been sacked.

He reached a sublime 90 without losing against Australia in 2016 and an unbeaten 64 against Bangladesh in the group stage of this World Cup.

“That hit at the MCG was meant to happen, but when I come here, it’s like I’m meant to come to Adelaide and enjoy my hitting,” he said earlier in the tournament.

“As soon as I found out the World Cup was in Australia, I was grinning from ear to ear.

“I knew good cricket shots would be the key.”

A week later, back in Adelaide, Kohli was India’s first batsman in the nets on Wednesday afternoon.

He continued to bat largely with composure, although at one point he was knocked down by a delivery from Harshal Patel that hit him in the groin.

Otherwise, the sound of the ball hitting the willow tree echoed around the empty oval with each powerful swing or strike.

He took two bats into the nets with him, carefully positioning one so that it rested on the back of the stumps.

You could tell he was feeling at home.

Kohli may not be the only talk in town, but he is still to be feared.

England beware.

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