The Sky Is Now The Limit For Virat Kohli
When Kohli does well India does well
When Sachin Tendulkar retired ten years ago he did so with a plethora of records standing against his name. It was reckoned that at least some of the major ones like most runs and most centuries in the two formats (he played only in one T-20 international) would be impossible to equal let alone surpass.
However, over the years, since he left the scene, it became clear that if there was one player who could pull off the impossible it was Virat Kohli. With an extraordinary blend of talent, technique and temperament and an insatiable appetite for runs and big scores the combative Indian with the single mindedness of purpose kept piling on the runs and the centuries in all three formats.
While Tendulkar’s tally of runs and hundreds in Tests is still the Mount Everest of international cricket, Kohli has now equalled at least one of his major records, most number of centuries in ODIs. This has been on the cards for a while but still when he drew level on Sunday it was time to applaud the living legend.
And with someone who has a flair for showmanship and coming off on the big stage he performed the feat in the World Cup, on the iconic Eden Gardens and on his 35th birthday. Who else can write such an unbelievable script other than Virat Kohli?
Surely it is now only a matter of time before Kohli notches up his 50th ODI century and sets the new benchmark. Not that the ambitious cricketer will stop at that figure, he will just go on and on to set his own impossible mark for future generations to attempt to equal and surpass.
There is little doubt that across all three formats Kohli is the greatest of all time. No one even comes close. There was a time not too long ago when he averaged fifty plus in all the formats.
This is a truly stupendous feat for while it is par for the course for a really brilliant batsman to average 50 in Tests and ODIs it is near impossible for a batsman to pull off a similar feat in the shortest format of the game especially after figuring in over 100 such matches. The format involves more than just an element of risk and the knocks however explosive are generally brief.
Over the last year or so his Test average has fallen to 49 but knowing Kohli there is little doubt that he will bring it back to the half century mark again ere long.
Besides Tendulkar’s tally of runs and centuries in Tests there is another record that could be beyond Kohli – his 100 international hundreds. Kohli at the moment has 79 and at 35 there is no way he could get anywhere near that despite his immense skill and supreme fitness.
But he is still second to Tendulkar and that is a position he will be glad to occupy as a big feather in his multi decorated cap.
In any case in ODIs the sky is the limit for Kohli who scores over Tendulkar in a couple of important aspects, average and strike rate.
Tendulkar finished with an average of 44.83 and a strike rate of 86.23. Kohli’s consistency and explosive batting style has seen him run up an average of 58.48 allied to a strike rate of 93.55. Needless to say he has figured in lesser number of innings, 277 to Tendulkar’s 452. Tendulkar has of course scored almost 5000 runs more.
Yes, there has been the odd occasion when the runs and the centuries have dried up. But form is temporary, class is permanent goes the well-known sporting cliché and that is what Kohli’s supporters keep chanting when such times occur.
It is well known that when Kohli does well India does well. His is such a commanding presence at the crease as befitting an all-time Indian great probably the only current player who would talk into an all-time greatest Indian XI in all formats.
However unacceptable his on-field behaviour is sometimes (though there are signs that he has mellowed) as a batsman he is in a league of his own. He has the unique honour of being the Wisden leading cricketer of the year three years in a row and this at a time when the game has produced a number of outstanding cricketers.
Kohli’s biggest asset has always been his temperament. This has helped him to become a successful Indian captain though not everyone has approved of his ultra-combative and fractious demeanour. But as he famously once said “I will not ask anyone to do anything I will not do myself,’’ while touching upon his ability to lead from the front and his exalted status as the team’s leading cricketer.
As a batsman though this strong temperament has stood him in very good stead for he is least overawed by a bowler’s reputation or the precarious position his side is in. He plays his strokes freely, even with gay abandon befitting someone who is confidence personified. There is little doubt that if India go on to win the World Cup, Kohli will have played a major role.