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Virat Kohli - Brash and beautiful

FILE PHOTO: Virat Kohli is speeding over records at an alarming pace

Audacious. Arrogant. Exuberant. Passionate. Explosive. Belligerent.  Combative. Match Winner.

That’s a combination of adjectives that very few players in the world can proudly stake claim to. Viv Richards, Ricky Ponting, Kevin Pietersen come to mind. It’s high time we welcome Virat Kohli in that exclusive list.

As India made a mockery out of Australia’s 359 by chasing it down with 6.3 overs to spare, Rohit Sharma came of age, Shikhar Dhawan twirled his moustache and flexed his batting muscles some more, but Virat Kohli took it to a whole different level.

Kohli didn’t just breeze through and make the fastest century by an Indian player, but he made a perfectly capable bowling attack look amateurish.

Even the cricket purists would have enjoyed this kamikaze, as there wasn’t a single ungainly slog that careened off his bat. He came in like a man possessed, and the Aussie bowlers were made to look like greenhorn exorcists.

It was a Virat Kohli unlike we had seen before, but one we knew was lurking somewhere within. There was some brilliant batsmanship on display throughout the match, from Aaron Finch to Shikhar Dhawan. But with wrist play that would have made Hyderabadis proud and shot making as sumptuous as Butter Chicken, Kohli’s innings was particularly exhilarating.

He broke a surfeit of batting records en route his euphuistical blitzkrieg. This was the fastest century by an Indian (52 balls). He broke Sehwag’s record of a century in 60 balls against New Zealand in Hamilton, in 2009.

It was also the third fastest century while chasing, behind Shahid Afridi’s 45 ball ton against India in 2005 and Kevin O’Brien’s 50 ball hundred against England in the 2011 World Cup. Kohli’s ton was also the fastest ever against Australia, comfortably beating Craig McMillan’s 67 ball ton in 2007.

Looking at the larger picture, this was Virat Kohli’s 16th ton in just 115 ODIs. That equates to about a ton every 7.2 matches. This ratio is the second best in the history of limited overs internationals (players with a minimum of 10 ODI centuries), only behind Hashim Amla, who currently has 11 tons in 74 ODIs, a century every 6.8 matches.

For players with a minimum of 50 ODIs in their kitty, Kohli has the 5th best average (50.92), behind Amla, Bevan, Trott and Dhoni. All this with a strike rate of 87.42, and you know that India has a match winner in their hands.

Kohli is also a master of the run chase. With an average of 82.70 in 45 chases, he has the 5th best average in ODI history (cutoff – 30 innings), behind the likes of MS Dhoni, Michael Bevan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Michael Clarke.

However, it is to be noted that he has scored the maximum runs chasing out of this lot (2481 runs). This was also his 10th ton while chasing, which puts him behind only Sachin Tendulkar’s tally of 18 tons.

Putting these numbers into context, Kohli already has more ODI centuries than any player who has ever donned the English colours.

He is one of only 5 players to have this exceptional double of an average greater than 50 and Strike Rate greater than 80. Virat Kohli has been setting standards and constantly raising the bar that he has set himself. He is the irrefutable champion of ODI cricket at present.

A few days short of his 25th birthday, Kohli is creating quite a legacy for himself already. With at least 10 more years left at the top, it is scary to imagine what more he has in store for the cricket enthusiasts.

Just 25 years and 115 ODIs old, Kohli is already a limited overs legend. He might very well end up as the Nadia Comaneci of limited overs cricket.

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