Mag­nif­i­cent Kohli fol­lows in Ten­dulkar’s foot­steps

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

In­dia bats­man Chetesh­war Pu­jara could have been for­given for feel­ing more than a lit­tle ag­grieved when his dis­missal drew hearty cheers from his home crowd at the Wankhede Sta­dium on Satur­day. Ap­par­ently un­con­cerned that In­dia had lost an im­por­tant wicket from the sec­ond ball of the third day of the fourth test against Eng­land, the crowd roared as Pu­jara trudged back to the dress­ing room.

Then, as a chant of “Koh-li­iii! Kohli!” re­ver­ber­ated around the sta­dium and out across the Ara­bian Sea, In­dia’s darling walked to the mid­dle to take his guard.

Not since Sachin Ten­dulkar re­tired in 2013 has an In­dian crick­eter com­manded the adu­la­tion that Vi­rat Kohli is cur­rently en­joy­ing, and few would ar­gue that he is not de­serv­ing of it. The at­mos­phere at the Wankhede was rem­i­nis­cent of the era when Ten­dulkar, a Mum­bai na­tive, used to walk out to bat at the same num­ber four po­si­tion.

Kohli, as per­haps he must, dis­misses com­par­i­son with the bat­ting great but it is clear that they have a sim­i­lar ap­petite for runs. Dur­ing his ca­reer-high 235 in Mum­bai, his third dou­ble cen­tury of the year, the Delhi bats­man be­came the first In­dian since Rahul Dravid in 2011 to ac­cu­mu­late more than 1,000 test runs in a year.

His rich vein of form has not been re­stricted to the long­est form of the game, how­ever, and he is first bats­man to av­er­age over 50 in all three for­mats as well as be­ing the high­est in­ter­na­tional run-scorer of 2016. Kohli’s sin­gle-minded drive for ex­cel­lence also echoes Ten­dulkar, who as­sid­u­ously re­fined his craft to ac­cu­mu­late over 34,000 runs and 100 cen­turies in a 24-year ca­reer. Like Ten­dulkar, Kohli has a nearflaw­less tech­nique which helps him tackle pace and spin with equal ease and In­dia look to him ev­ery time they hit choppy wa­ters, as they did for two decades with the “Lit­tle Mas­ter”. And, like Ten­dulkar, Kohli is rapidly be­com­ing a darling of cor­po­ra­tions keen to as­so­ciate their brands with a player whose ex­pres­sive na­ture has touched a nerve with In­dia’s youth.

All was not quite as rosy cou­ple of years back, how­ever. Kohli had made his ODI de­but as a 19-year-old and played his first test three years later, start­ing on a path that would lead to 15 test hun­dreds and 26 cen­turies in the 50-over for­mat. Of his 13 test cen­turies be­fore the start of the on­go­ing se­ries, how­ever, only one had come against Eng­land, at Nag­pur in 2012.

And in the five-test se­ries in Eng­land in 2014, Kohli hit a trough, man­ag­ing only 134 runs at an av­er­age of 13.4 with a high score of 39.

“It made me re­alise what I need to im­prove in my game so I am pretty thank­ful to Eng­land for that,” Kohli re­called at the start of the cur­rent se­ries against the English. “I have been a re­ally im­proved crick­eter from then on.” Af­ter his re­turn from Eng­land, Kohli went knock­ing on Ten­dulkar’s door.

“The best ad­vice was not to read and look up things that are writ­ten about me,” Kohli told re­porters af­ter In­dia took an unas­sail­able 3-0 lead over Eng­land on Mon­day. “I am not jok­ing or be­ing sar­cas­tic, and that was the best ad­vice I have got.”

The re­wards have come since in a tor­rent of runs, no more so than over the last four tests where he has scored 640 of them at an av­er­age of 128.

One point of dif­fer­ence with Ten­dulkar is Kohli’s suc­cess as a cap­tain, a re­spon­si­bil­ity which hung heav­ily on the shoul­ders of the game’s most pro­lific run scorer but has brought out the best in the younger bats­man. Be­fore re­plac­ing Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni as test cap­tain at the end of 2014, Kohli av­er­aged just a shade above 41 but since then the num­ber has shot up to 65.5.

Five con­sec­u­tive test se­ries vic­to­ries for In­dia and a firm grip on the num­ber one test rank­ing un­der his lead­er­ship have in­ten­si­fied his pop­u­lar­ity.

For Kohli, how­ever, bury­ing the ghosts of 2014 in a first se­ries win over Eng­land in four at­tempts was clearly some­thing spe­cial. “This se­ries win is prob­a­bly the sweet­est of all we’ve won in the past 14-15 months,” Kohli said.

“It couldn’t get any bet­ter, in the Wankhede you win 3-0 against a top qual­ity side that has beaten us con­vinc­ingly. It feels re­ally good.” — Reuters

MUM­BAI: This file photo taken on De­cem­ber 11, 2016 shows In­dia’s cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli greet­ing the crowd as he walks back to­wards the pav­il­ion af­ter his dis­missal on the fourth day of the fourth Test cricket match be­tween In­dia and Eng­land at the Wankhede sta­dium in Mum­bai. In­dia’s Vi­rat Kohli yes­ter­day climbed to a ca­reer-best sec­ond po­si­tion in the ICC bat­ting chart af­ter his dou­ble-cen­tury in Mum­bai helped the hosts clinch the five-match Test se­ries against Eng­land. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.