Virat Kohli’s exploits in T20Is are nothing new. The Indian captain has led the side to victory with his exemplary batting performances on a number of occasions. Yet, when Kohli played a match-winning knock of 72* against South Africa yesterday, people were left in awe – and it has now become a norm with the Indian captain.
During the 72-run innings yesterday, Virat reached an average of 50+ across all the three formats. If this wasn’t fascinating enough, the Indian skipper has achieved the feat for the second time in his career. No other batsman has done it – ever.
Often, the debates over modern-day greatness in batsmanship revolve around the ‘fab-four’ – Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root. Obviously, there have been players (AB de Villiers) – and are still (Babar Azam), who present excellent cases to be counted among the best in modern-day cricket. Anyway, the four batsmen have been parts of almost all conversations surrounding the debate.
All – Kohli, Smith, Williamson and Root are either captains or have captained their national sides at some point.
Recently, Australia’s Smith reignited the debate and put forward a strong claim to be counted among the G.O.A.T.S (Greatest Of All Time) with a brilliant performance in the Ashes. Smith amassed 774 runs in merely 7 innings in his first series in the longest format since his comeback to international cricket.
However, Virat Kohli’s dominance in all the three formats with an alarming consistency makes him stand apart from his contemporaries.
Hunger to prove himself:
Virat Kohli’s success rates have only gone higher and higher with every passing year. With the exception of AB de Villiers, there has hardly been a player who could adapt their skills to the demands of all the three formats. Of course, while the South African player is an absolute treat to watch on his day, Virat Kohli’s consistency gives him an edge over his RCB teammate.
In his early days, Virat was more of a limited-overs batsman. In 2014, his technical issues in the longest format were exposed in the tour to England. And while the Indian skipper did perform exceptionally in all the overseas tour, the poor scores in England - like a dent on the car, continued to ruin an otherwise perfect picture.
This changed in 2018, when a more mature Virat showed an incredible amount of patience in taking on the high-profile English attack to become the highest scorer in the series. What was more fascinating, however, was that the Indian captain wasn’t shy of letting the bowlers take edge over him in individual battles. He would play out the more testing times on the pitch, which is important in the longest format – more so in English conditions, to prolong his time and finally take the charge. In five Tests, Kohli scored 593 runs, which included two centuries and three half-centuries.
Kohli’s Australian compatriot Steve Smith makes a slightly stronger case to be adjudged the best in Tests, but he falls short in the limited-overs format. While Smith averages 41 in ODIs and 21 in T20Is, Virat is the only current player to have an average of over 60 in the fifty-over format.
Powerhouse in limited-overs
In the limited-overs, Virat Kohli’s prowess is second to none. The fact that the Indian skipper scored five half-centuries in the 2019 World Cup and still failed to live up to expectations of many, tells one all about the consistency at which he operates in the one-day format.
English captain Joe Root, as well as New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, have all been their respective sides’ best performers in the limited-overs, but they fall short in front of Virat.
Joe Root is not a power-player, and his batting in ODIs relies as much on timing as it does in Tests. Williamson, meanwhile, is a classic old-school player with a methodical approach. Unlike Root or Virat, Kane often finds himself in a situation where it’s either him or bust for New Zealand. For that role, Kane is perfect for the Kiwi team, and it showed in the 2019 World Cup.
In comparison, however, Virat Kohli can adapt his game according to the demands of the situation at relative ease. His timing is, of course, peculiar, but he can easily change his tempo at will. This reflects best when their stats are filtered down to successful chases in ODIs, where Virat Kohli averages a staggering 96.55, while Root averages 78, and Williamson, 51.
The difference becomes starker in T20Is, where Virat’s numbers are insane. In the same filter, the Indian skipper averages a stunning 111, while Joe Root averages 54. Even as Williamson comes close at 86, four of the ten successful chases he has been a part of have come against Zimbabwe and The Netherlands.
Virat Kohli continues on his domination across all the formats of the game. With the home season ahead, it is quite likely that Virat will achieve many incredible feats, and further take his average to unknown territories. And while the fans and experts have been used to his exploits, the awe-factor with the Indian captain will remain forever.