Every era produces its own set of world-class batsmen. The current generation is no different; Steve Smith, Babar Azam and Kane Williamson lead the charge and are excellent batsmen in their own right.
But Virat Kohli is arguably better than all of them.
Kohli is cricket’s latest superstar. He pulverizes bowling attacks, scores centuries at will and breaks records at lightning speed. Some of the numerous records to his name are: best ODI average ever (minimum 50 innings), second most centuries (41), fastest to 8000, 9000 and 10,000 runs, and the most 50-plus scores in T20I cricket (21).
And he does it all with an assurance that borders on the unreal. His century against Australia at Adelaide earlier this year was a classic example of his batting superiority, the highlights of which can be seen below:
It is easy to see why the 30-year-old is so highly rated. Here, we take a closer look at Kohli’s game, and identify three things that make him such a brilliant batsman.
#3 The incredibly high goals Kohli sets for himself
It has been quite obvious from the start that Kohli would not be content with being another average player. He wanted to be the best batsman in the world, and had a burning desire to achieve this lofty goal.
He realized it would not be an easy task and, indeed, it wasn’t. Kohli, especially in the early part of his career, was vulnerable to balls outside off-stump and was dismissed several times in search of expansive drives.
But the batsman went back to the drawing board and corrected his technical deficiencies.
With his new-and-improved game, Kohli now dominates bowling attacks everywhere. He peels off hundreds with regularity and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, his career trajectory seems to constantly go up, and he improves by the day.
Kohli is now regarded as one of the greatest batsman ever. But he will not be satisfied until the title of 'greatest ever' is taken completely out of the grasp of the others
#2 Match awareness and ability to find gaps
When Kohli comes out to bat, he puts on a serious face. He ignores the external factors such as the noise, the pressure and the crowd’s emotions and, instead, focuses on the match.
He engages himself fully in the battle at hand. Kohli is then in a super-focused state where he is able to read the match situation expertly and identify what the team requires from him.
Between balls, he assesses the field and looks for gaps. This awareness explains why he can pierce the field so easily. Whether it is on the leg-side or off-side, Kohli is adept at steering the ball into vacant areas.
During the recent World Cup 2019 group match against England, Kohli hit quite a few elegant boundaries in his knock of 66. He guided the ball with skill and precision to the cover region for fours, and beat several fielders en route.
Kohli’s keen match-awareness and ability to find gaps are certainly worthy of respect.
#1 Versatility across formats
The most important reason behind Virat Kohli’s success is his versatility.
All the great players are Test and ODI (a handful of them T20) doyens, and Kohli is no exception. He is a star player for Team India, no matter what the format.
Let us start with his Test game. Kohli has a splendid average of 53.76 in 77 matches, including 25 centuries.
He is a jack of all trades when he dons white clothing. Kohli is as comfortable batting in the fourth innings and defending balls in order to save the match for India, as he is batting in the first innings and destroying the bowlers.
Let us move on to his ODI game. Kohli boasts an out-of-the-world average of 59.40 in the 50-over format. He dominates white-ball bowlers with the same bravura as Test bowlers (his T20I average is a formidable 49.34).
To achieve this level of ability in three different formats is remarkable. But then again, Kohli is more than remarkable. He is brilliant.