AHMEDABAD, India, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Virat Kohli has long been on the cusp of batting greatness and at the age of 35 he is making a strong case to be considered the greatest 50-overs player of all time time after a run-laden World. Cup campaign at home.
Sachin Tendulkar was the game’s premier batsman until he retired in 2013, and Kohli inherited that mantle from his compatriot, who dominated the game for long periods over the past decade.
Initially, Kohli was part of the “Fab Four” of batting along with England’s Joe Root, Australia’s Steve Smith and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson.
While others have faded a bit recently, Kohli is blazing fast, and ahead of his peers.
From 2011 to 2019, Kohli scored more than 1,000 ODI runs in a year seven times before nearly three years without a hundred in international cricket.
The elegant right-hander ended the drought in September last year and has been at his best in the current World Cup, where he is the runaway top-scorer with 711 runs from 10 games including three centuries .
He overtook Tendulkar’s record 49 ODI hundreds in Mumbai on Wednesday and it was only fitting that his idol was at the Wankhede Stadium to witness it.
“I couldn’t be happier that an Indian has broken my record,” Tendulkar wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, to congratulate his protégé.
“And to do it on the biggest stage – in the World Cup Semi-final – and in my home country is the icing on the cake.”
The run in which Kohli broke Tendulkar’s record was also remarkable, reaching his 50th ODI ton in 279 innings to his predecessor’s 49 in 452 innings.
Kohli seemed immune to the pressure other batters felt while chasing, and 27 of his 50 hundreds came in the second over.
His dominance often drew comparisons with West Indies great Viv Richards, who himself was an admirer of Kohli’s batting.
“I’m a huge fan of Virat… and he continues to show why he should go down as one of the all-time greats, right up there with the likes of the great Sachin,” Richards wrote. in his column for the International Cricket Council.
“Many people have drawn comparisons between the two of us over the years, partly because of our shared passion on the field.
“I like Virat’s enthusiasm… He is always in the game and I like individuals like that.”
Age and fatherhood may have mellowed him, but Kohli can still put on an arresting display when he takes to the field.
Once in the middle, Kohli didn’t shy away from the spotlight, he embraced it – even when celebrating the dismissal of a rival in which he played no part.
The fans love him. And many also follow him – with a gesture or a look he can arouse the wild support from the stands when the team needs more motivation, or prevent the crowd from mocking an opponent, like Steve Smith, or mocking a fellow Indian player.
But it was with the bat that he was at his best, and there was no more impressive sight in contemporary cricket than his checked cover drive.
Pakistan bowling great Wasim Akram’s post on X this week best sums up Kohli’s impact on batting.
“We live in @imVkohli era. Congratulations emperor,” the bowling great wrote after Kohli’s masterclass in Mumbai.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Ahmedabad; Editing by Hugh Lawson
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