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King Kohli - A budding legend 

Bhavik Gupta
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
11 Jul 2018, 12:47 IST

ICC World Twenty20 India 2016: Semi-Final: West Indies v India
ICC World Twenty20 India 2016: Semi-Final: West Indies v India

The game of cricket has seen a lot of players in different eras. There have been innumerable superstars in the game, ever since the game itself was a toddler. It has seen WG Grace in the late 1800s and Don Bradman in 1930s, Viv Richards and (The Little Master) Sunil Gavaskar in 1980s.

The 1990s and 2000s belonged to Tendulkar, Ponting, and Lara. But Tendulkar was always the triumphant overlord in the Battle Royale among all his adversaries. However, it is accurate to say that Tendulkar was never as effective as a captain as he was as a batsman.

This fact proved to be a blemish in an otherwise illustrious career of the 'Master Blaster'. The mantle of greatness in the 2010s has now been passed over to Virat Kohli. And the 'Protégé of God' is looking to scale every mountain set by the 'God' himself.

South Africa v India - 2nd Test, Day 3
South Africa v India, 2nd Test-Kohli ecstatic after getting to his second test hundred in the Proteas

How would you describe Virat Kohli as a cricketer? An Enigma, An Aggressive Captain, Ferocious fielder, Mind-Blowing Batsmen and (Arguably) the best chaser of the targets in the Game of Cricket ever.

Today, Kohli is not just a legendary batsman like his predecessor was but he is the skipper of the Indian Cricket Team as well. The below lookup presents two contrasting sides of the roles donned by Kohli and their as contrasting nature as that of a coin: -

AS A PLAYER: -

Apart from that horrendous tour of England in 2014, there has not been a single series where Kohli has failed in his whole career. He has been phenomenal everywhere around the world across all formats. Especially since the start of 2016, Kohli has almost been unstoppable in any format of the game against every and any opposition.

The levels at which Kohli is playing his game for the past 2-3 years are just unprecedented. Such was his domination in the T20 format (both in IPL 2016 and all T20 international games) that he was termed as the 'Bradman of T20 cricket'. This was in resemblance with the fact that he achieved an average of 100 in T20's!

Now, the comparisons between two players of different eras and generations looks like a thoughtless attempt. But the last time the world saw such dominance from an Indian batsman was way back in 1998. The time when Sachin Tendulkar looked like he had a personal enmity with every bowler in the World.

When the God of Cricket said adios to his billion cricket fans, nobody could ever have even imagined that his prized record of 100 hundreds could ever be broken. It looked like a distant dream (probably comparable to an Everest climb).

But such has been the levels of Kohli's consistency that (despite a feeble middle order for the past 2-3 years) India is a force to reckon in any part of the world. The historic win over the South Africans is a testament to the same.

As a player, Virat Kohli has a very compact technique with incredible and unfathomable levels of aggression and passion. His consistency across all the formats places him way ahead of his adversaries of the Fab Four (namely Steven Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root).

The range of people inspired the levels of fitness achieved by him is humongous. have inspired his troops rallied by him but also the other cricketers all over the country and the general populace of the nation as well.

This spectrum includes not only the troops rallied by him but also the other cricketers all over the country and the general populace of the Indians as well. But besides being the mainstay of the Indian Batting Line up, Kohli also dons the role of being the skipper of Indian team.

AS A CAPTAIN: -

Since that historic chase of India against Sri Lanka in Hobart in the CB Series 2012, the wonder-boy of the Indian Cricket turned into a responsible player. But The night when Kohli came into the limelight was when he led his group of boys to a world cup win in the 2008 U-19 World Cup in Malaysia.

ICC Under 19 World Cup Final - India v South Africa
ICC U-19 WC Final, Ind vs SA--The night which changed it all for Kohli and Indian cricket

And with his constant and astounding success in the Indian middle order, it was inevitable that he will be considered as the heir to MS Dhoni for the the Iron Throne of the Indian captaincy. When MS was injured in the first test match against Australia in the Indian tour of Australia in 2014, Kohli was given the Captain's role. And boy did he deliver as a captain! Kohli almost pulled off a stunner of a Win in his debut captaincy test all through his will to fight. In spite of that loss (and we all know that he hates to lose), he admits it himself that it is probably still his favorite test.

Australia v India - 1st Test: Day 3
Adelaide Test,2014-- The test remembered for
performance
of losing team skipper's heroics rather than the winning team's triumph

Since that Adelaide Test, a lot has happened for Kohli, the captain. India have become number one again in test matches for the past 2 years (receiving the test mace twice). Kohli is the captain of the Indian Cricket Team in all the three formats now. The records do speak for Kohli as his W/L ratio (wins per losses) has been phenomenal in every format of the game [Test--4.2, ODI 3.8 and T20 1.4].

But there is a chink in the armor which has not gone unnoticed. The team selections of Kohli's team are always found to be erroneous, to say the least. Even in the Adelaide Test of 2014, the decision to play Karn Sharma instead of Umesh Yadav (who had been one of the phenomenal success of the terrible Indian tour of Australia of 2011).

The decision backfired for the Incumbent skipper as the leggie was unimpressive as well as ineffective. And there have been numerous cases of the same errors happening in his captaincy stint up until now. In Champions Trophy final 2017, the decision to bowl first was criticized by every cricket expert. It is a classic move for teams to opt to bat first, put runs on the board and let the opposition succumb under the mountain of chasing in the big games of an ICC tournament.

2017 ICC Champions Trophy Cricket Final India v Pakistan Jun 18th
CT 2017 Final, Ind vs Pak: - The day which brought the prominence and dire need of Wrist spin in the limited overs format for Indian Cricket

The test series of the South African tour was lost in the same way. And this time, it was multiple team selections errors which led to the test series loss. For instance, choosing an 'in-form' Rohit Sharma over Ajinkya Rahane in two tests, sitting out Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the second test (with a ridiculous notion that he will not be as effective on a bouncy track), preferring KL Rahul instead of Shikhar Dhawan in the remaining tests after the latter had featured in only one test match (in which even Kohli was unable to perform well in both the innings) etc.

1st Sunfoil Test: South Africa v India, Day Four
South Africa v India, Horrendous Call: - Rohit Sharma preferred ahead of Ajinkya Rahane in 1st and 2nd Test of Ind-SA test tour based on "current form"

When he was asked the same thing in the press conference, he lambasted the journalists and reporters for asking the spot-on questions (that hurt) in the context of the lost test series. As hard he finds it to admit it now but when Kohli will look back, he will understand this test tour of South Africa as a lost opportunity.

The errors have been there in his IPL franchise decisions as well. In the IPL 2018, the same issues of team selection loomed over RCB. Ultimately, RCB had lost a lot of matches in the initial phase of the tournament just because of the wrong team balance.

CRICKET-RSA-IND-ODI
Ind vs SA ODI Series, Masterstroke: - Bringing in Wrist Spin twins to replace Ashwin-Jadeja from the limited overs format

Although he has made some dreadful decisions, there have been some masterstrokes as well from Kohli. One of them was to bring the wrist twins into prominence in the limited-overs format of the game. This move gradually expelled the inefficacious duo of Ashwin-Jadeja after India's inability to take wickets in the middle overs in the champions trophy. The stunning decision paid off not only on the sub-continent pitches but also on the Pace-Friendly pitches of South Africa.

Ultimately, India went on to win its first-ever series win in South Africa in the ODIs and T20s. It is going to bear more and more fruits since most players find it highly difficult to read Kuldeep from the hands, an imperative to playing a chinaman spinner. Apart from that, Kohli really believes in his players on the field. He gives them full license to attack, set their own fields with significant & important suggestions from MS Dhoni. Also, the conviction to play county cricket for the all-important tour of England in 2018 is impressive.

If Kohli understands the need of the team in the same way he did with bringing in the wrist spinners into the picture, he will probably turn out to become the rare hybrid of the best captain and legendary batsman. Thus, it will ultimately put him in the prestigious league of Richards, Ponting, and Dhoni. And he will leave a legacy behind as both a player and as a captain that will definitely be impossible to replicate for any other cricketer.

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