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can Kohli perform well today after repeatedly failing in the semi-finals?

Virat Kohli. The name itself speaks volumes. He’s the maestro of centuries in One Day International cricket, and he doesn’t need any new introduction. Even in the ongoing World Cup, he has written stories of success. So far, he has amassed two centuries and five half-centuries.

With an average of 99, he has accumulated 594 runs, making him the highest run-scorer in this World Cup. But even for this successful Kohli, there’s a challenge awaiting in the semifinals. One might wonder, at this stage of his career, what more tests could Kohli face? Is there anything left for him to prove?

There’s one test pending. The test where he has failed in the previous three attempts in his illustrious career in One Day International World Cup semifinals. That test is the semifinal stage itself. Kohli has played in the World Cup semifinals three times before and has been dismissed every time by a left-arm pacer. The final exam awaits, against one of those three opponents, a former skipper of India.

Kohli played his first World Cup in home conditions back in 2011. In the semifinal against Pakistan, he scored only 9 runs before getting out to Wahab Riaz’s delivery. However, his failure in that match didn’t heavily impact the team’s fate. India defeated Pakistan by 29 runs and proceeded to the final, where they conquered Sri Lanka.

In the 2015 World Cup, India reached the semifinals again. Kohli fell to Mitchell Johnson’s bouncer, scoring just 1 run in 13 balls. India lost the semifinal by 95 runs while chasing a target of 329 runs against Australia.

The subsequent World Cup also narrated a similar tale. This time, Kohli was prey to Trent Boult’s bowling. He managed just 1 run before being caught behind off Boult’s delivery. In a rain-interrupted semifinal, Kohli’s team lost by 18 runs. It was a bit more responsibility on the shoulders of India’s skipper than what he could manage. Something he couldn’t accomplish.

Once again, India faces New Zealand in the semifinals. Kohli’s opponent is Boult. Can Kohli handle Boult’s threat this time? Even if he manages to, will he pass the semifinal test with flying colors? Perhaps Kohli wants to prove himself in this test, as this might be the last One Day International World Cup for the 35-year-old.

It’s not just about the World Cup semifinals. Kohli has had limited exposure to knockout matches in international cricket. He is yet to notch up a century in a knockout match. Today, perhaps, he aims to conquer that milestone. And if he manages to do that, he’ll set a new record for most centuries by a batsman as the first-choice in One Day Internationals.

To achieve something like this, Kohli can draw inspiration from a particular match – the 2016 T20 World Cup semifinal at Wankhede. In that match against West Indies, in his hometown of Mumbai, he played an unbeaten innings of 89 runs off just 47 balls. Although despite such a splendid innings, India lost the semifinal. Will that confidence come in handy for Kohli this time?

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