Indian batting maestro, Virat Kohli, is globally admired for his incredible run-scoring feats across all formats. Though not a frontline bowler, Kohli has also produced cameo bowling spells and snatched 5 key wickets for India over the years. His nagging medium pace has provided crucial breakthroughs thanks to sharp thinking and subtle variations. Let us revisit how Kohli has chipped in with timely strikes using his ‘part-time’ bowling skills.
Outfoxing Dangerman Alastair Cook in Cardiff, 2011
Kohli’s first ODI wicket came against England in Cardiff in 2011. With India defending 271, Kohli was introduced in the 23rd over after the openers settled. He struck immediately by removing dangerman Alastair Cook, who was well-set on 50. A scrambled seam delivery from Kohli straightened just enough to induce Cook’s edge, and Dhoni completed the catch. Dismissing the in-form Cook early provided an opening, as India restricted England to 238 and won by 33 runs. Kohli’s brilliant bowling debut proved pivotal.
Castling Kieswetter in High-Scoring Mohali Clash, 2011
In the 5th ODI at Mohali two weeks later, England were cruising in their chase of 301/8 thanks to a blazing start from Craig Kieswetter, who raced to 36 off 30 balls. With the asking rate under control, Kohli’s wicket of Kieswetter in the 9th over off a perfect leg-cutter was timely. The ball nipped back sharply through the gate to uproot off-stump, as Kieswetter was beaten comprehensively by the extravagant swing. This wicket slowed England’s scoring as Jonathan Trott’s heroic 112 took them close. However, England fell short by 5 runs in the end. Kohli’s key strike to remove Kieswetter for 36 was crucial.
Breaking De Kock’s Resistance at the Bullring, 2013
At Johannesburg’s daunting Bullring in 2013, a young Quinton de Kock was dominating India’s strong bowling attack during his sublime 135. With South Africa cruising at 217/1 while chasing 358, Kohli provided the vital breakthrough by dismissing the rampant de Kock caught behind. It wasn’t a great delivery down the leg side, but de Kock got a faint edge on his attempted fine glance. Dhoni completed a sharp catch to remove the well-set de Kock. Although AB de Villiers’ epic innings nearly got South Africa over the line, India won by just 6 runs in a classic. Kohli’s timely strike rattled the Proteas.
Removing Captain McCullum in Wellington Duel, 2014
In the 2014 New Zealand ODI series, Kohli outfoxed Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum with a delivery that swung in late. Looking to work it through midwicket, McCullum got a leading edge back to Kohli who took a simple return catch. The dangerous McCullum fell for 23 to put India back in control after a strong Kiwi start. Kohli also bowled a miserly 1/35 in his 10 overs, setting up India’s win. His wicket of McCullum helped swing the momentum India’s way at a key moment.
Castling the Dutch Captain in 2023 World Cup
At the 2023 ODI World Cup in India, Kohli rolled back the years by dismissing Netherlands captain Scott Edwards. With Netherlands stumbling at 95/5 chasing 349, Kohli got one to nip back sharply and go through Edwards’ defense, rattling timber. The Dutch skipper was castled for 17 as Kohli savored the big wicket. India defended 348 with ease to register their 9th consecutive World Cup win in 2023, creating history. By removing Edwards, Kohli showcased his knack for breaking stubborn stands.
Kohli’s Clever Bowling Strategy and Skills
What makes Kohli’s ODI bowling exploits stand out is his shrewd cricketing brain while operating. He has often struck when frontline bowlers struggled. By subtly varying seam position, angles and delivery tempo, Kohli keeps batsmen guessing. He attacks the stumps and tests technique. When required, Kohli can also extract extra bounce and movement to outfox batsmen. He has claimed crucial scalps like de Kock and McCullum by outsmarting them through clever variations. With agility and direct throws, Kohli fields off his own bowling as well.
By conceding less than 5 runs per over, Kohli maintains pressure and restricts scoring rates. His economy rate of 4.66 highlights effectiveness. Having a batting legend who can also chip in with tight bowling and take key wickets is invaluable for India’s ODI balance.
Kohli’s Passionate Celebrations Delight Fans
What makes fans cherish Kohli’s wickets is how passionately he celebrates, punching the air wildly with roars of ‘Come on!’. His child-like joy on making the ball talk shows how much each wicket means to him. Kohli’s enthusiasm despite not being a specialist bowler makes him unique. His cameo spells bring unexpected delight for Indian fans. For aspiring all-rounders, Kohli’s cameo exploits provide lessons on seizing pivotal moments.