Virat Kohli Birthday: Examining Kohli's ODI numbers before and after captaincy
Ever since he made his ODI debut for India in 2008, Virat Kohli has been one of the most talked about Indian cricketers. If I were to use one word to describe his growth in the past nine years, it would be 'inspirational'. No one would have predicted that the 20-year-old boy from Delhi who received so much flak for his brash behaviour in the initial years of his career, would go on to rule world cricket one day.
From scoring his debut ODI century against Sri Lanka in 2009 to becoming the batsman closest to Sachin Tendulkar's record of 49 centuries - with 32 hundreds at present.
The Indian captain's game has only tremendously upped.
When Kohli was considered a suitable successor to the uber cool MS Dhoni, a lot of concerns were raised and critics were not in favour of it because of his temperament and aggressive nature on the field.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore captain had already started showing positive results after taking over the Test captaincy in 2014 when he captained India in Australia and eventually led India to become the number 1 Test team in the world.
Virat Kohli was given the limited overs captaincy in January 2017 and since then, he has surpassed all expectations. It was feared that he would lose his natural game because of the pressures and additional challenges that captaincy brings along but Kohli is one of those few cricketers who do not crumble but instead, thrive under pressure.
Previous to becoming the captain, Kohli had scored a mammoth 7570 runs at a rapid strike-rate of 90.43, with a highest-scoring knock of 183 runs and 26 hundreds at 52.93. In what has been a triumphant career so far for the batting maestro, captaincy or no captaincy, the runs keep flowing. It's almost like boundaries come as naturally to him as food cravings to someone on a diet!
The Indian skipper has ensured that his batting prowess keeps getting better with each game, along with proving himself to be a good team leader. He has added six centuries and seven fifties to his glorious ODI career, scoring 1460 runs in 26 innings at a strike-rate of 99.11 and averaging 76.84 since he was officially made captain in January this year and now holds the record for most runs in a calendar year.
Kohli reclaimed the No 1 spot in the latest ICC rankings for ODI batsmen, after scoring 263 runs, including two centuries, in the just-concluded three-match ODI series against New Zealand. He reached 899 ICC points - the best ever by an Indian cricketer, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s tally of 889 points, which was achieved in the year 1997.
Kohli has set the bar high and does that each time he goes on to the field, whichever format it may be. During the 3rd ODI against New Zealand last month, Kohli became the fastest to reach 9000 ODI runs, in just 194 innings, breaking his RCB counterpart AB de Villiers’s record of 9000 runs in 205 innings.
Even the legends of the game are running out of words to describe the Delhite's scintillating form and rocketing progress and just when we thought that he could not surprise us more, he became the first Indian captain to score six centuries in ODIs in a calendar year, a record that he now shares with the former Aussie captain Ricky Ponting, who had achieved the feat twice (in 2003 and 2007).
Another laurel was added to the ambitious captain's name when India won the first ODI against Australia at home after white-washing Sri Lanka 5-0 earlier, setting the record for most consecutive wins as Indian captain, with 10 wins on the trot.
It's only been a short while since he took over the limited-overs captaincy and it is too soon to judge or compare the effect of captaincy on Kohli's performance with the bat. But looking at his current form, it is hard to even imagine how many records the formidable batsman is going to shatter in the near future.
If anything, captaincy has only made Virat Kohli a more responsible and simultaneously dangerous batsman who can strategically grab the game away from the opponents.