Virat Kohli‘s recent practice session ahead of the Cricket World Cup 2023 semifinal against New Zealand showcased his meticulous preparation against potential threats, specifically short-pitched bowling and left-arm spin. The intense net drills mirrored real-game scenarios, focusing on skills needed to counter the Kiwi challenge.
New Zealand, led by Lockie Ferguson’s express pace, poses a formidable threat, and Kohli diligently honed his technique against a barrage of short-pitched deliveries from Shardul Thakur and side-arm specialists. Ferguson’s recent display of peak form against Sri Lanka highlighted his ability to trouble batsmen with short deliveries, making it imperative for Kohli to be well-prepared.
Despite Kohli’s proficiency in handling body-line deliveries, he left nothing to chance and adeptly dispatched numerous bouncers, even attempting ramp shots to counter Ferguson’s pace.
Another potential challenge for Kohli lies in facing Mitchell Santner’s left-arm spin, an area where the Indian star has historically encountered difficulties.
Past struggles against left-armers like Keshav Maharaj and Shakib Al Hasan emphasized the need for focused preparation. Santner, New Zealand’s standout bowler, showcased his prowess by consistently hitting the right length, resulting in impressive numbers – 16 wickets from nine matches with an economy of 4.6.
Kohli’s recent records against left-arm spinners reveal a struggle since January 2021, with an average just over 13 and a diminished strike-rate of 66. To address this, Kohli engaged in net sessions against Ravindra Jadeja, fine-tuning his skills and addressing potential weaknesses.
The practice session highlighted Kohli’s strategic mindset, acknowledging and preparing for the specific challenges posed by New Zealand’s key players.
While the immediate focus may be on the upcoming match against the Netherlands, Kohli’s thorough preparation indicates a forward-looking approach, recognizing the potential threats in the semifinals.
The absence of Ishan Kishan from the optional session was notable, while Jasprit Bumrah’s experimentation with spin and coach Rahul Dravid’s role as a side-arm thrower added an interesting dynamic to the practice session. Overall, Kohli’s comprehensive preparation reflects his commitment to ensuring readiness for the crucial encounter against New Zealand in the World Cup semifinals.