Cricket World Cup 2011: Kohli and Raina Represent the Future of Indian Cricket

Aditya M SCorrespondent IApril 4, 2011

MUMBAI, INDIA - APRIL 02:  Yuvraj Singh of India celebrates his teams win with Virat Kohli during the 2011 ICC World Cup Final between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Mumbai, India.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

At 31 for two, India’s hopes of lifting only their second World Cup seemed in doubt. And when the two wickets that had fallen were of the hard hitting and brilliant Virender Sehwag and that of India’s very own Sachin Tendulkar, the already difficult task just becomes even harder.

In came Virat Kohli. He, along with the mercurial Gautam Gambhir, steadied the faltering Indian ship and resurrected the Indian innings and provided the perfect platform for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to explode.

Gambhir and Dhoni might be the heroes of the Indian innings, but let’s not forget the contributions of Kohli, who once again showed great skill and guts until he was dismissed thanks to some great piece of fielding by Dilshan.

When he strode into the crease, his team needed him and Gambhir to steady the innings, and that is exactly what they did. He scored 35 runs and was involved in an 83 run partnership with Gambhir for the fourth wicket. When he got out, the score was 114-3, and they had given India hope. His partnership with Gambhir proved to be the catalyst in India’s fantastic run chase that culminated in them lifting the World Cup trophy.

Ever since his arrival on the international stage, Virat Kohli has been a revelation for India. He is the fastest Indian to score 1,000 runs in ODI cricket. He has scored 1,822 runs for India in 48 matches with an extremely impressive average of just below 50.

But his contribution does not stop there. Kohli’s fielding is just as valuable to his side as his batting is. The Indian team is often regarded as one of the poorer fielding units, and some of the matches over the course of the World Cup reaffirmed those thoughts.

But throughout the tournament, Kohli remained one of India’s best fielders. His presence in the 30 yard circle is extremely reassuring for all Indian fans.

Having a good fielder on your team can go a long way in lifting the team when things are not going your way. How many times have we seen the bowler responding positively to a great bit of commitment from the fielder? The very fact that your team is working hard for you goes a long way in helping the bowler.

Speaking of great fielders, another great one in this Indian side is Suresh Raina. The southpaw is one of the most stylish players in the current squad.

He is proving to be a great find for Indian cricket, and the way he can deal with the short ball makes him one of the best prospects to come out of India in a long time.

Together with Kohli, I believe that these two players hold the future of India’s batting.

The likes of Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag and Laxman are not getting any younger. I expect at least three of them to retire within the next three to four years at most.

Players of this quality come once in a lifetime, and to replace them will be an uphill task for Indian cricket. And so when they eventually retire, there will be a huge void left in the whole squad.

By the time these players retire, both Kohli and Raina would have gained enough experience at the international level and will be ready to make their foray into all forms of the game and will be prime candidates to replace these legends. While Raina has already made a few impressive performances in test cricket, the renaissance of Yuvraj will limit his opportunities.

But if they can keep up their recent performances, they have enough potential to cement their place in the starting lineup of the test team.

There are several promising young cricketers in this country, but I believe that these two players will go onto make a lasting impact. Their recent form indicates that they have enough quality to make it big in the big stage. Raina and Kohli are only two of three Indian cricketers to score two ODI hundreds before their 22nd birthday. Any guess who the third Indian was? None other than Sachin Tendulkar.

Virat Kohli has proved to be an extremely talented cricketer with a great temperament. He has the ability to stabilize the innings and at the same time can accelerate. Like the World Cup Final showed, he can prove to be a calming influence and can build partnerships.

That is where his strength lies. His ability to build partnerships is extremely impressive. From the explosive Sehwag to Tendulkar, he has shown the ability to milk the runs and build partnerships. He doesn’t mind playing second fiddle and can, at the same time, turn on the style with some explosive shots.

Kohli scored 282 runs throughout the tournament and scored a century in the opener against Bangladesh. While he might not have set the stage on fire, he was a reassuring presence at No. 4 and chipped in with some crucial knocks.

Raina was unused in the group stages, but thanks to some less than impressive batting from Yusuf Pathan, he was drafted into the team for the crucial clash against Australia. Raina too has shown a knack of rising to the occasion when his country has needed him the most. He is also the only Indian to score a century in all three formats of the game.

And he didn’t disappoint. His inclusion proved to be a masterstroke as he guided India to victory along with Yuvraj in a match winning sixth wicket stand. His fielding was also outstanding.

Both Kohli and Raina are India’s best fielders, and this was evident in India’s three knockout clashes against Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Raina is an immensely talented player who I believe is invaluable to India lower down the order. He offers India some stability that Yusuf can’t offer, and at the same time, can explode if necessary. His stint with Chennai Super Kings has proven him to be a great hitter of the ball who can explode when needed. At the same time he values his wicket and can play cautiously for the team, something that Yusuf fails to do on several occasions often going for the big hit.

Raina can bowl occasionally as well and has already picked up seven wickets.

He has scored some key knocks and has already scored 2500 runs for the national side. When he gets going there is little that can be done to stop him and he displayed his value to India with two great knocks against Pakistan and Australia.

I also believe that in the future one of these two players will become captains for India. Kohli led the Under 19 side to glory in the Under 19 World Cup and has the confidence and temperament required to make a great captain. Raina, on the other hand, has already captained the national side in a series.

These two players are two of the most versatile players on the current side and their presence as great fielders increases their importance to an Indian side that is below par in the fielding department. When Raina came into the squad for the match against Australia there was an immediate improvement in India’s fielding as we saw plenty of dives within the thirty yard circle from both Raina and Kohli.

These two players might not have set the tournament ablaze, but they sure did chip in with invaluable knocks that helped India achieve glory.

They have immense potential to become future stars, and if they continue their recent form, they will achieve the success they look destined to achieve.


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