The age-old cliche that "You can either love him or hate him but you can't ignore him" fits aptly to Virat Kohli in the manner his peers and rivals look upto him even when he is going through one of the leanest patches in his international career. (India vs West Indies 2nd ODI: Wounded hosts aim to draw level vs spirited Windies)
While the poor form has been a prolonged one, but there is no denying that Kohli grabbed the maximum eyeballs during India's two-and-half-hour training session on the eve of the second one-dayer between India and the West Indies at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground here. (Ishant Sharma replaces Mohit Sharma for India vs West Indies ODIs)
No wonder while his state-mate and old pal Shikhar Dhawan termed him as a "strong character", rival captain Dwayne Bravo pledged that he would like to ensure that the batsman's "lean patch continues" in the ongoing series. (Rohit Sharma wants his opener's slot back, happy to fight for it)
"We discuss a lot of things, obviously we are very good friends, but he is mentally a very strong character. It's good to see him remain positive all this while. I'm sure he'll be back in form soon and score lots of runs," Dhawan said when a reporter asked if he had any advice for Kohli. (Did India orchestrate Sunil Narine's 'ouster'?)
When Bravo was asked about Kohli's manner of dismissal in the first ODI, he was sporting enough to acknowledge the talent and ability of the Delhi youngster. (Stats highlights: Jadeja's marathon, Raina's ducks)
"Virat is a fantastic player and will score a lot of runs. I wish him a lot of success in the World Cup but for the time being, we would like to ensure that his lean patch continues," Bravo said with a straight face during the media conference on the eve of the second ODI.
From the moment, Kohli entered the nets, it was not only chief coach Duncan Fletcher, who had his eyes trained on him but also skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the entire media contingent who inspected him with prying eyes.
In the first net, he faced the pace bowlers -- mainly net bowlers as Mohit Sharma has been ruled out of the series and Mohammed Shami was given rest during the optional session.
Among the frontline pacers, only Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were available.
While the grumpy looking Fletcher observed Kohli keenly, one saw a few deliveries from the net bowlers finding the thickish outside edge of his bat. Even Yadav beat his bat a couple of times with pace.
Once Kohli was done with facing the pacers, he took fresh guard at the spinners' net. He did step out a number of times to Amit Mishra as well as on fewer occasions against Ravindra Jadeja's left-arm spin. A number of them were struck well but he did mistime a few as well.
Cut to the next net where he spent the maximum time taking throwdowns from assistant coach Sanjay Bangar, Kohli looked more assured as one saw him middling the ball during his stint here.
But just like Dhawan said Kohli has remained "positive", it seemed that he is not unduly perturbed with his sudden loss of form after a dream two years, where he could perhaps do nothing wrong with the willow.
Once he was done with his batting, he sat near the sightscreen, sharing a laugh with Suresh Raina after which he did some short sprints alone in the area adjacent to the practice nets.
While leaving, he did oblige the fans posing for photographs and did sign a few autographs before disappearing in the confines of the dressing room. After Kohli was through with his training, there wasn't much interest left in the practice session even though young chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav had a long bowl at the Indian captain.