Who’s the great­est of them all?

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IN­DIA’S Vi­rat Kohli con­tin­ues to stand head and shoul­ders above the rest of the bat­ting world. In the re­cently com­pleted ODI series against the West Indies, the In­dian cap­tain sped past 10 000 runs in one-day in­ter­na­tional cricket, be­com­ing the fastest man to do so.

Kohli, who scored three con­sec­u­tive hun­dreds against the Windies, achieved the feat 54 in­nings sooner than the leg­endary Sachin Ten­dulkar, also of In­dia.

The com­par­isons be­tween the two greats have of­ten come up, with Ten­dulkar’s place in his­tory al­ready as­sured by a stack of in­di­vid­ual records. But Kohli’s in­sa­tiable ap­petite for runs, as well as In­dia’s ever-bur­geon­ing fix­ture list, means that the num­bers may be a lot closer by the time In­dia’s finest player of this gen­er­a­tion puts his bat down.

Kohli has over­seen a sharp change of at­ti­tude and in­tent from In­dia, and he is famed for his abil­ity to chase down tar­gets.

He com­pares very favourably with the best in the his­tory of the game across all for­mats, but Kohli seems to thrive in the 50-over for­mat.

The flat tracks of In­dia, his own fit­ness stan­dards and the trend for big­ger and big­ger to­tals be­ing scored in 50 overs has seen him flour­ish and reach even greater heights.

Closer to home, South Africa has a tal­ent who has also set the barom­e­ter rather high, espe­cially in one-day in­ter­na­tional cricket.

Kohli is of­ten com­pared to his great friend and RCB team-mate AB de Vil­liers, but it is Hashim Amla who has racked up some in­cred­i­bly con­sis­tent num­bers.

Amla, who is miss­ing the cur­rent tour of Aus­tralia due to in­jury, was the fastest to 2 000, 3 000, 4 000, 5 000 and 6 000 runs in one-day cricket. De Vil­liers, mean­while, was the fastest to 7 000 and 8 000 runs, be­fore Kohli sur­passed him for both those marks, as well as the 9 000 run-mark.

They are all in­cred­i­ble play­ers, blessed with an abil­ity to shift gears and win matches with an hour of bril­liance.

All four of them have held the man­tle of best bats­man in the world at some stage.

Cur­rently, though, Kohli is with­out peer in in­ter­na­tional cricket. It has taken him just 11 in­nings to go from 9 000 to 10 000 runs, and he is still just 29 years old.

That means he has plenty of time on his hands, and it is not be­yond the realms of pos­si­bil­ity for him to look at the pre­vi­ously un­think­able mark of 20 000 runs by the time he is done.

Al­ready, he has struck 1 000 runs in a calendar year on six oc­ca­sions, a number bet­tered only by Ten­dulkar (7).

Given the amount of 50-over cricket that In­dia sched­ule, he could carry on plun­der­ing in that fash­ion for much of the next decade.

The next big prize on Kohli’s hori­zon is the next year’s World Cup hosted in Eng­land. As In­dia’s cap­tain, he would love noth­ing more than to lift the tro­phy. And, if he con­tin­ues to bat as he is do­ing, there is ev­ery chance that he will be do­ing so next July.

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