Colombo: Virat Kohli's unbeaten 128 on in the fourth One-Day International against Sri Lanka was the fifth hundred in his last eight innings and the 13th of his ODI career. In his last 10 innings, he has made 850 runs at 106.25, stats unparalleled during a 10-innings stretch in ODI history.
"When you start scoring runs, you always want to take it up one level," said Kohli after securing a series-winning victory for India. "I have told myself that there is no point getting out for 105 or 106, just after reaching your hundred. I have realised that if you are set, then not only must you get a hundred but get a big hundred so that the guys coming in don’t have to face pressure situations.
"The idea is that once you get to 70 or 80, you go on to get a big one so that it can help the team win matches. I know players say when you are in good form, you must make the most of it. But if I start thinking about that, it will put added pressure on me. I just want to concentrate on what I am doing, look at situations and analyse them, and continue to enjoy my cricket the way I have been doing."
Kohli, named vice-captain for the Asia Cup in March and bestowed with the same responsibility this time around, said he was relishing the role. "I was happily surprised when I was first made the vice-captain," said Kohli. "It feels nice when people think you have the qualities to handle responsibility. It has made me more aware of my role. It's all about thinking, about maturing, about understanding your game. I am still the same person, but the way I think about cricket has changed."
India can draw level with Australia on rating points at the top of the International Cricket Council ODI table if they win the fifth ODI in Pallekele on Saturday. "We don't want to think about it," said Kohli. "Our aim is to be as consistent as we possibly can. If we can make it three wins in a row, it will be wonderful. We are trying to stick to the basics and do it over and over again. When you start thinking about rankings and things like that, it starts to put pressure on you as a team, so it's best to avoid focusing on that."
Mahela Jayawardena, the Sri Lankan captain, admitted that his team had been outplayed by the Indians. "I don't think we played good enough cricket," said Jayawardene after the crushing six-wicket loss. "We performed in patches, but we need to be more consistent. Our batting hasn't been that great throughout the series, the bowling was not penetrative enough and we were not a good fielding side throughout the four matches. Allround, we were well below par."
Sri Lanka lost their way in the middle overs against India's part-time bowlers. "We kept losing wickets, there was no momentum at all," said Jayawardena. "The pitch was slow, and the bowlers bowled even slower. We didn't push enough singles in the middle overs, and we got ourselves into a hole from which there was no way we could get out of. On this track, 280-290 would have been competitive, but we just didn't execute our plans well enough."