IS VIRAT KOHLI THE GREATEST EVER ODI BATSMAN| PROFANTASY CRICKET

IS VIRAT KOHLI THE GREATEST EVER ODI BATSMAN| PROFANTASY CRICKET

MARTIN CROWE CALLED IT

When Virat Kohli led the Indian U-19 team to a World Cup victory back in 2008, the cricketing fraternity was aware that he’d make the cut to the Indian senior cricket team sooner than later. What we didn’t know is that this flamboyant youngster would turn out to be one of the greatest batsmen the game has ever seen. In 2014, Martin Crowe, probably the finest New Zealand batsman had envisaged the quartet of Steven Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root and Virat Kohli to rule the cricketing world. Well, Crowe was spot on with his prediction. While Smith has grabbed the tag as the best test batsman in the world, Kohli currently is the best in the coloured uniform and by a distance. But, is Virat Kohli the greatest ever ODI cricketer?

Sir Donald Bradman is, beyond any argument, considered the greatest batsman ever. The Aussie great amassed 29 centuries in 80 test innings at an average of 99.94. A hundred every 2.7 innings. Those behemoth numbers will never ever be duplicated in any form of cricket they said until a boy from Bandra took the cricketing arena by storm. 100 international hundreds the batting maestro stacked up and when asked in an interview who he’d want to break that record. He said “either Kohli or Rohit Sharma”.

Well, Kohli for sure took his words extremely fervently. The Delhi batsman has scored 35 centuries in the 200 innings he’s batted. Sachin after 208 innings had scored 21 centuries. If averages are considered Kohli averages 58.10, the second best average in ODI. Ryan Ten Doeschate leads the list with an average of 67.00. Albeit, Kohli has scored a mere 8047 runs, 29 centuries and has played 168 innings more. Needless to say, Kohli is leaps and bounds ahead of the current lot of cricketers and like the finest in sports, he’s way ahead of his time.

AN ORDINARY START TURNED INTO A PURPLE PATCH

Every sportsman has a blend of good form, a mediocre patch and torrid runs along his career. The longevity in the sport determines which phase acquires the majority. Kohli’s start in ODI’s wasn’t the best by any means. 177 runs in his first 7 games. That was a 19-year-old erratic kid who had sparks of brilliance, but it was very evident he needed fine tuning. It took him 13 innings to get to his first ODI hundred against Sri Lanka in 2009. Since then, he’s become the orchestrator of Indian batting. In the last 5 years, Kohli has scored 5702 runs, 22 hundreds(7 more than the next best) at 64.06. Call that a purple patch?

Kohli’s scores a hundred every 5.7 innings in ODIs. At this rate, he’ll equal Sachin’s 49 hundreds in 80 games.

SACHIN’S PURITY, PONTING’S TOUGHNESS AND LARA’S FLAIR

Virat Kohli reminds me a lot of Ricky Ponting. An aggressive batsman who does a lot of talking on the field and talks equally fluently with the bat. Now, that’s a combination you’d not want to get into a battle with. Like Ponting, Kohli has flourished as a pugnacious character. Rahul Dravid in an interview put it immaculately. “Every time I watch Virat bat he raises the bar. I watch one inning and go wow! what an innings and he then plays a better knock”. When these words come from one of the games’ finest batsman we assuredly are watching greatness unfold before us. Kohli as a test batsman isn’t far from the best. Steven Smith has upgraded his game but Virat’s mental toughness and his willingness to improve every single time he goes out to bat will test Smith’s character as well.

Kohli is majorly a bottom handed player and you expect such players to be dominant on the on-side. Well, welcome to the Kohli’s world, where the insane becomes the ordinary. The cover drives, the cut shots, the backfoot punches, the pull and hook shots. Name them and he’s got them all checked. You have to pick your jaws off the floor when he gets going. What’s even more frightening; he’s getting better with every game.

KOHLI’S COLOSSAL NUMBERS IN ODIs

TEAM

MATCHES

100’s

AVERAGE

SRI LANKA

46

8

59.08

WEST INDIES

27

4

60.30

ENGLAND

26

3

41.86

AUSTRALIA

28

5

51.39

SOUTH AFRICA

26

4

66.78

NEW ZEALAND

19

5

72.12

PAKISTAN

12

2

45.90

BANGLADESH

11

3

81.75

ZIMBABWE

8

1

50.60

Kohli made his ODI debut on 18/08/2008 and over a period of ten years, he’s averaged less than 47 only twice. In 2008, he averaged 31.80 in 5 games and in 2015 where he scored 623 runs in 20 matches at 36.64. He’s smashed 1000 runs or more 5 times with the highest being 1460 in 2017 with 7 centuries. In 2018, he’s played 6 games and is averaging an astonishing 186.00. With Kohli, numbers will grow and grow exponentially. He’s well on course to shatter Sachin’s record of 49 tons and if he plays as many games as the master did, the 20,000 run mark wouldn’t seem impossible. Too soon to call? Well, I don’t think so.

THE CHASE MASTER KOHLI

Chasing targets is as easy as a stroll in the park for Virat Kohli. Batting second, he’s scored 21 hundreds at 67.90. Out of the 21 centuries 19 of them have been in winning causes. In this day and age where players find unorthodox ways of scoring, Kohli gets his runs with proper cricketing strokes. Very seldom will you see him reverse-sweep or play that hoick over midwicket or even play those complicated ramp shots.

If it’s full, he’ll drive it powerfully to the sweeper boundary or if the delivery is in his hitting arc, he’ll go straight. Kohli hates losing and it’s extremely obvious how precisely he sizes targets. His 133* against Sri Lanka in Hobart has to be one of the finest display of batsmanship. Taking on Lasith Malinga with aplomb and helping India chase 322 runs; the seed was planted. That seed has now become a gigantic tree that’s here to stay for a long time.

BATTING SECOND

IN SUCCESSFUL CHASES

MATCHES

120

MATCHES

76

RUNS

5772

RUNS

4501

AVERAGE

67.90

AVERAGE

97.84

HUNDREDS

21

HUNDREDS

19

One area where Kohli’s numbers aren’t as magnificent is in the finals of major tournaments. In 8 finals the world’s best batsman has scored 154 runs at 22.00. Well, that proves Kohli is human after all. However, he’s already won the ICC World Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy. That cushions the blow to a certain extent but Kohli will be all charged up to better those numbers in the upcoming World Cup.

Kohli’s stats are gargantuan, his temperament, impeccable and his thirst for success, unquenchable. Sachin’s record is the only mountain he’s yet to scale. With the kind of form he’s displayed and with the fitness regime he’s adhered to, there’s very little doubt that he’s going to overhaul every ODI record. We often are sceptical to hail sportsmen ‘The Greatest’ before their numbers are the best. From Sir Viv Richards to Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli. The baton has shifted hands and in the coming years it’s bound to shift from Kohli to someone else. Until then, the Kohli juggernaut continues.

 

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