When Virat Kohli, the 19-year old led India to victory in the 2008 World Cup, few would have predicted that Kohli would become the subject of the greatest of all time debate within just a decade. Kohli at 29, stands as the only batsmen in the world who has an average of over 50 across all formats and his batting remains impeccable—whether it be an away tour or a match on home soil.
Kohli, born and raised in Delhi, was a natural talent. According to his coach Rajkumar Sharma, "He oozed talent. It was so difficult to keep him quiet. He was a natural in whatever he did and I was most impressed with his attitude. He was ready to bat at any spot, and I had to literally push him home after the training sessions. He just wouldn’t leave." His dedication was exemplified by the fact that he chose to play in a first-class game just 1 day after his father passed away. The Kohli we see today is a result of the hard work put in the formative years of his youth.
It is natural that Kohli is compared to all time greats such as Bradman, Tendulkar and Richards. He has the ability to score runs in all directions at a brilliant strike-rate without taking too many risks is captivating to watch—especially in a run chase.
Do give a look at his career statistics:
After the tour in South Africa, a series in which Kohli received the man of the series award, social media was rife with the debate on Kohli's status as an all-time great. While some argued that Kohli had already achieved the status of the best amongst the best, others claimed that he still had a long way to go. In this article, we put forth arguments that justify the former argument.
1) Incredible consistency:
The stats clearly indicate that it is imperative to get Kohli out before he gets to the 50 mark because when he surpasses the figure of 50, he reaches the triple figure a whopping 43.3 % of the times.
Kohli has the lowest ratio of innings played/centuries scored. Tendulkar—widely regarded as the greatest batsman of all time— has a ratio of 9.22 whereas Kohli stands at 5.79 which is nearly half that of the maestro.
The question that then arises is that what is the reason behind the consistency of Kohli. For one thing, Kohli doesn't take a lot of risks in scoring his runs. He rarely plays aerial shots in the first half of his innings. In contrast to a player like Rohit Sharma, who has a 3.35 6's:4's ratio, Kohli has a 6's:4's ratio of 8.58. Despite that, he has a strike rate of 92 which is greater than that of Rohit(86). Kohli is able to score runs at a quick pace without playing fancy shots which contribute to his consistency.
2) Ability to chase down big scores:
Kohli is known as the "Master Chaser" for making big scores in ODI's while chasing. He has scored 35 centuries in ODI cricket, out of which 20 have come in chases. He has already surpassed Tendulkar's record of 17 centuries when India batted second despite playing half the matches. Kohli has the average of 95 in successful run chases and 60 in chases overall which makes him the best chaser in the history of the game. His ability to put pressure on the opposition bowlers and bat according to the situation makes him a match winner for team India.
3) Maturity after becoming ODI captain:
After taking over the captaincy in 2017, his performance has reached up to new heights. Since then, he has scored 2739 runs in 48 matches with an average of 80.55 at a strike rate of 98.10.
Kohli has scored the second highest no. of centuries as a captain, despite the fact that he has played less than 50 games. His ratio of innings played/centuries scored is 3.76 which is almost 3 times better than that of Ricky Ponting.
4) Fitness level on peak:
It was Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh that ushered in the era of maintaining high standards of fitness in the Indian team. The younger crop of players has taken lessons from them, making India one of the fittest teams on the tour. Chief among the fittest players in the team is Virat Kohli. Kohli is not only a beast in the field but his amazing agility and stamina allow him to convert one's into two's and stay at the crease for longer periods of time.
Given the arguments, it seems like Kohli may already have achieved the status of the Greatest ODI player of all time—even though he has 14 fewer centuries than Tendulkar. But, he has a long way to go if he wants to achieve the status of the greatest batsman of all time given that he has 21 centuries in Test's as compared to 50 for Tendulkar.
By : Dristi Banaudha