PARTAB RAMCHAND | 8 OCTOBER, 2018
The Figures Against Kohli’s Name Get Dizzier and Dizzier
Mesmerizing as these statistics are what stands out is Kohli’s temperament.
The figures against Virat Kohli’s name get dizzier and dizzier almost every time he bats. It is now taken for granted that the records held by Sachin Tendulkar will be broken by Kohli. When the great man retired it was thought that the figures against his name would stand the test of time for an extended period. A little matter of 15,921 runs in Tests, 18,426 runs in ODIs, 51 hundreds in Tests, 49 in ODIs besides a host of minor records indicated that it would be Mission Impossible for anyone to even come near let alone surpass these marks.
And yet just about five years since Tendulkar played his last Test we have someone like Sunil Gavaskar who is as cautious in his predictions as he was in his batting approach sticking his neck out in his newspaper column and saying that by the time Kohli finishes playing the game most batting records would be his. Even those who believed that Tendulkar’s records were unsurpassable are now more or less convinced that if there is one batsman who will go past them it is Kohli.
While it can be taken for granted that Tendulkar’s marks are no longer safe – and that goes for his ODI figures too - what is absolutely mind boggling is that some of Kohli’s records are next only to Don Bradman. Of course unlike in the case of Tendulkar it can be safely said that Bradman’s major records will stand as long as cricket is played. But to run up stats that brings you next only to the game’s greatest batsman ever is something that gives the Indian captain who turns 30 next month an aura all his own. Cricket has thrown up several great batsman since Bradman played his last Test 70 years ago but none of them came close to even threatening his major records. Kohli too is some distance away but the fact that he is second only to Bradman at least in some cases speaks volumes of his prodigious gifts, a driving ambition to be the best in the business and an insatiable appetite for runs and big scores.
For example a benchmark for a batsman to be hailed as truly great is to average a hundred every four Tests. But Kohli averages a hundred every three Tests – 24 in 72 matches. Bradman of course is way ahead with 29 hundreds in just 52 Tests. Kohli’s six double hundreds – one such landmark every 11-1/2 Tests – is next only to Bradman who notched up 12 such scores. During the just concluded Test against West Indies at Rajkot Bradman’s name again came up when discussing a Kohli feat. The Indian captain got to his 24th Test hundred in his 123rd innings next only to Bradman who needed just 66 innings. On the way Kohli surpassed Tendulkar (125 innings) and Gavaskar (128 innings). It is clear now that in future whenever he passes another landmark it may not be Tendulkar’s name that will crop up but Bradman’s – the ultimate tribute to any batsman
Indeed there just seems to be no stopping Kohli. As a batsman he is in a league of his own. On his way to becoming the quickest to reach this mark or the youngest to reach that mark putting in the shade some of the greatest names in the history of the game Kohli has already ran up an awesome record. His feats in Test cricket have already been discussed but it is the same with ODIs. No one in the history of the limited overs game who has notched up close to 10,000 runs allied to an average as high as 58. What’s more his tally of 35 hundreds is already second to Tendulkar’s record of 49. The way he is going that is probably going to be the first of Tendulkar’s records to go overboard.
Perhaps even more remarkable is his performance in cricket’s newest and shortest format. It is a format that calls for very quick scoring marked by big hits which means the risk factor is high. Moreover the restricted number of overs means that knocks are generally explosive and entertaining but short on the duration factor. Astonishingly Kohli averages almost 49 in T-20 internationals to go along with a highly impressive strike rate of 136. To put these figures in proper perspective let’s examine the figures of two T-20 players who have a sky high reputation - Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum. The former has a strike rate of 143 but he averages only 33 while the latter has the same strike rate as Kohli’s but averages 35.
Mesmerizing as these statistics are what stands out is Kohli’s temperament. Unlike many others who are burdened by the responsibilities of captaincy he relishes the challenge and has scored more runs and centuries as captain than as a player. He is least overawed by a bowler’s reputation or the precarious position his side is in and displays a ruthless streak when he is up against weak bowling – one of the hallmarks of a great batsman. He plays his strokes freely – even with gay abandon – befitting someone who is confidence personified. His hitting is bold and vigorous but he also plays cultured strokes all round the wicket even as his defence is secure which makes him arguably the toughest batsman to bowl to in world cricket today.