Virat Kohli: World’s most destructive ODI batsman
However, it’s in one-dayers that Kohli has expressed himself in the most telling manner: 17 centuries, an average of over 52 and strike-rate of over 88 – a proven match-winner in all conditions.
The confidence and belief were always part of his character even in his under-19 days. But he has now added maturity to his game, raising it to a very high level which has been in evidence in the ongoing ODI series against Australia.
Experts generally feel that his immense self-confidence has flowed into his batting seamlessly. “Kohli has gone from strength to strength after an impressive campaign in the 2009 Champions Trophy in South Africa.
It’s his self-confidence which puts the bowlers immediately on the back foot. And when you have great technique to back that confidence, runs will naturally flow,” former chairman of selectors Kris Srikkanth told TOI on Thursday.
The former India opener opined that the 2009 Champions Trophy was the turning point in Kohli’s career. “Virat had gone to South Africa as a replacement of Yuvraj Singh and scored an impressive 79 not out against West Indies.
He quickly adapted to the format and matured quickly. In the meantime, he also made his Test debut and the success that he had in the series Down Under increased his confidence even more,” Srikkanth added.
Kohli’s former Delhi coach Manoj Prabhakar concurs with Srikkanth. “Virat is one batsman who is always ready to take on the short ball. When a batsman is not scared of the bouncer, his feet movement becomes more fluid and the timing comes as a result,” Prabhakar said.
Kohli came close to scoring 1,000 ODI runs (995) in 2010 but hasn’t missed that landmark in the next three years – 1,381 in 2011, 1,026 in 2012 and 1,033 in 2013 till date.
Over the course of these three years, he has also amassed 13 centuries and on Wednesday became the quickest to amass 17 tons, in 58 fewer innings than Sourav Ganguly.
At 24, the world is there to be won for Kohli. “The manner in which Virat is batting, the record of (Sachin Tendulkar’s) 49 hundreds looks possible. Virat needs 32 more and with the number of ODIs Indians play he can do it.
This cricketing season itself, Virat can get to 20 or 22 hundreds,” former India captain Sunil Gavaskar told a news channel. From the outside, Kohli might appear to be brash but his success hasn’t come without hard work. Innumerable hours in the gym followed by single-minded dedication in the nets have all contributed to his success.
“Kohli has never taken any shortcuts. He has worked on his technique, especially against the short ball, with a lot of hours in the nets. Even now, if you see, his maturity shows in how he builds an innings.
His strength are his square and cover drives and he sticks to them in the early part of a knock. As he gets set in the middle, he opens out a little more,” Kohli’s long-time coach Rajkumar Sharma said.
Prabhakar gives an example of what a quick learner Kohli is. “During a Ranji match against Tamil Nadu in 2011, I observed that Kohli was a bit too upright while playing his stroke.
As a result, after scoring a century in the first innings, Kohli popped up a catch to short-midwicket off R. Ashwin. I advised Kohli to lean a bit more especially while driving which changed his whole game.”
In the ongoing series alone, Kohli has amassed 344 runs at an average of 172 and has been instrumental in keeping India alive. He has even stolen George Bailey’s thunder despite the Aussie captain scoring a record number of runs I the series.
So what lies ahead for Kohli? “It’s not right to predict anyone’s future but I don’t have a doubt about the fact that Kohli will go down as one of the greatest ODI players in the world at least,” Srikkanth said.
Amongst the batsmen with 2,000 runs or more in successful ODI chases, Kohli’s average of 86.53 is the second highest, next only to MS Dhoni’s 101.28 (2,127 runs in 55 innings).
His tally of eleven hundreds in successful chases is bettered only by Sachin Tendulkar (14) in ODIs.
Since January 2009, Virat has managed 4,760 runs at an average of 53.48, including 17 hundreds and 25 fifties, in 113 matches. His aggregate and centuries are records by any batsman since January 2009.
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