What’s the story?
New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee has lavished praise on Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Hailing the star right-hander as 'the best batsman in the world', the 28-year old backed him to overcome English conditions and regain his form in the upcoming edition of the Champions Trophy.
“He (Kohli) is a class player. There’s a reason why they are such good players and they don’t stay out of form for too long. I’m sure he’s working extremely hard with such a big tournament round the corner. I’m sure he will adjust to the conditions.
“There’s a reason why he is the best batsman in the world. He will step up as the Indian captain as well,” Southee said during a promotional event.
The Kiwi added, “I don’t think any group is easy, that’s the beauty of Champions Trophy which is played among top eight teams in the world. There’s no easy game, that makes Champions Trophy such a great tournament to be a part of. Any side can beat the other on a given day. It’s an exciting tournament.”
Kohli is currently enduring an indifferent run of form for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the ongoing season of the Indian Premier League. From 9 matches thus far, he has scored just 250 runs at an average of 27.77 and strike-rate of 120.77. Even though those numbers are not too shabby, they are in sharp contrast to his usual lofty standards.
The heart of the matter
During India’s 2014 tour of England, Kohli struggled to come to terms with the seam-friendly conditions on offer. He could only manage to score 134 runs from 5 Tests at a miserable average of 13.40 without even crossing the fifty-mark once.
However, his record in ODIs in England is considerably better. From 14 matches (including those against neutral teams), he has scored 424 runs at an average of 38.54 and strike-rate of 86.53 including three fifty-plus scores. Knowing his penchant for rising to the occasion, Kohli will be confident of getting back into the groove when the Champions Trophy begins.
RCB finish their dismal season with a group game against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday night. Kohli’s attention will soon shift to the Champions Trophy which will start on June 1.
India are set to begin their title defence with the eagerly awaited clash against arch-rivals Pakistan at Edgbaston on the 4th June. Meanwhile, New Zealand kick start their campaign against Australia at the same venue on the 2nd.
Taking into account all formats of the game combined, Kohli is certainly one of the leading contenders vying for the title of the best batsman in the world. With the Champions Trophy being his first ICC event as captain, he will undoubtedly be focused on stamping his authority on the tournament by playing significant knocks.