Virat Kohli is coming out to bat.

He’s wearing the blue India jersey. Or the white Test flannels. The first step might be on beautifully maintained greens over in England. Or it could be dusty, patchy Guwahati. It might be cold and damp. Or hot and humid.

It doesn’t matter.

Virat Kohli is coming out to bat. He doesn’t chew gum, thrashing it away between his teeth, much like the great Viv used to chew out opponents a few decades ago. Virat doesn’t bother. His first step on to the field of play is statement enough

Oodles of ‘intent’

He doesn’t run. There’s no nervous energy he needs to dismiss from his system. He doesn’t amble to the crease, like a millionaire with thousands of pounds in his pockets. He doesn’t even look perturbed or too concerned with anything at all.

But he walks. Every single step he takes to the middle is with a purpose, a meaning. He puts down each step with authority. He looks around the ground, watching everyone cheer. And he walks onward. “Intent” – a word he’s made more than famous, raging from every pore of his body.

You remember that old saying about confidence? About how they fill a room with their presence? They enter the room and you know they’re inside. They don’t need to talk. When Kohli arrives at the crease, he fills the entire stadium, every block, every stand, every seat with his aura. The guy in the top tier at the Melbourne Cricket Ground doesn’t need to look at the big screen. Even from a 1,000 metres away, Kohli is unmistakeable. The swagger, the strut, the purpose.

Not one step out of place

Virat Kohli takes guard. He hasn’t faced a ball yet. He’s supposed to feel nervous. He taps the pitch with his marauding sword, the bat. Taps it once and twice. He imposes his will on the pitch, on the cordon, on the bowler, on the game. He casually looks around the outfield. Checks where the fielders are. And he bats.

In the space of a second, Kohli has transformed the atmosphere. A wicket for the bowling team is a cause for celebration. They’ve forced a batsman back into the hut. They’re cock-a-hoop. All eleven of them are baying for more. They’ve got a chance to surround the new batsmen like a pack of wolves. Put pressure – remind them that this is a tough, hard, lonely sport and they now have to face the music.

But by the time Kohli has walked to the crease and taken guard, the elation is extinguished. Take Jason Holder in Guwahati on Sunday. He had two sprightly pacers going gung-ho. One of them had just breached Shikhar Dhawan’s stumps. On a normal day, the Windies captain would have been baying for blood. But when Kohli came in, he had dealt with the mood by switching it off. Holder would probably have been forgiven if he thought, “Why did I have to dismiss Dhawan?”

Virat Kohli faces the first few deliveries. Some bowlers, young and inexperienced with optimism still within their ranks, think they have a chance. Maybe they slip in a short one like Oshane Thomas on Sunday. Maybe they put it wide, thinking they’ll get a nick.

The power of a leave

Virat Kohli watches as the many parts of his batting stance click into perfect synchronised symmetry. There’s the lift, the bat hovering down slightly and then upwards, the bat at a slight angle towards the slip, controlled with surgical ease. There’s the almost unnoticeable shuffle – left leg starting outside leg stump and coming in front of off stump, right in the time for the hands to drop down.

And then he leaves. Bat in front, front feet kicked out, hands going up with force. A leave is a defensive stroke – a stroke borne out of respect for the bowler, out of respect for his offering, almost a gentle apology and a submission: “Hey, I can’t play this ball right now because it might get me into trouble”.

A Virat Kohli leave turns that equation around. There is so much power, so much poise, so much domination in the simple act of putting his gloves up and leaving the ball well alone. “I’ve left this ball because I want to. Not because it’s great or anything. But I can’t be bothered to even touch this filth”.

So they bowl into his legs. And then the bat comes down, clipping it through mid-wicket where it races away. They bowl outside his off stump. He takes out that front foot and often mercilessly stamps it outside his off stump. The bat comes down in furious haste and is driven away. He stomps down immediately on the pitch, his territory, to take what is rightfully his, another run. The ultimate alpha.

Broken and battered

Virat Kohli has come out to bat. And he’s already crossed fifty. The required rate is hardly six an over. The chase has already been broken. The captain and the bowlers don’t know where to bowl. They don’t know where to put their fielders. They don’t know how to stop the runs. They’ve been swallowed into this unforgiving vortex. The match as a competition has already been lost. There’s no escape.

Virat Kohli has come out to bat. Just like he’s done in the 200-odd One-Day Internationals he’s played through his magical career. Just the like the 200 more he’ll probably play. Playing just like the way he’s hit 37 centuries. Scoring the thousands of runs he’s already scored and will go on to score. He hit 10,000 in Vizag in the second ODI against the Windies, but you seem to know that even now, that’s hardly a pinnacle. That’s probably just his second base camp on the way to the peak.

Virat Kohli has come out to bat. He will score runs. He will win the match. And it’s this inevitability that India will forever cherish and opposing captains always rue.