Who’s the greatest of them all?
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.