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Virat, the man for all seasons

If you focus purely on the cricketing brain and traits, there’s a lot to like about Virat. Whilst he has the smugness of a Vivian Richards or Pietersen, he also has the discipline of Rahul Dravid, and dexterity of Michael Bevan.

cricket Updated: Nov 23, 2013 01:15 IST
Sai Mohan

India have won 21 of the 28 ODIs (1 no result) this year at a record 75 percent win percentage. In those 21 victories, Virat Kohli has 956 runs at 73.53 with four tons. His feats are similar to Sachin Tendulkar’s in 1998 (1431 runs at 84) when India won most games in a calendar year, 24, but in over 40 ODIs.

India have five ODIs left to play this year. They need four wins to round off 2013 as the year with most wins ever.

In 2003, Australia won 30 out of 35 games at 85 percent, most by any team in history. But India, in 2013, are nearly as self-assured as that great Australia team. If there’s one man who embodies that ruthless aggression, the win-against-all-odds Aussie attitude, it’s Virat.

Despite his success, Virat is not the most popular in the backstage area. There are former cricketers and journalists who aren’t fond of him. Some feel he’s too arrogant. There’s a sense he feeds off such analysis.

If you focus purely on the cricketing brain and traits, there’s a lot to like about Virat. Here’s one, who barely days after scoring India’s fastest-ever ODI ton, respected the West Indies attack while chasing a below-par total in Kochi. Whilst he has the smugness of a Vivian Richards or Pietersen, he also has the discipline of Rahul Dravid, and dexterity of Michael Bevan or MS Dhoni.

Changing style
Virat won’t go after good balls unlike Richards, but won’t let a loose ball go scot-free either. When situation demands, he’d put his head down and graft. If a late flourish is needed, he’s still the ideal man.

He exhibited his pride after equalling Richards as the fastest to 5,000 ODI runs. “It doesn’t stop here. It’s more or less the beginning. I’m still 25, so it’s nice to equal him, but still a long way to go.”

He exhibited his dexterity after starring in yet another victory on Thursday. “When we fielded, I sorted out how to play (after West Indies struggled). I needed to play with a straight bat. I had to play as late as I could, close to the body. The ball might keep low at any point of time so needed to keep a straight bat.”

Head on shoulders
Virat wasn’t ready to get carried away after the Australia series that saw him plunder 344 runs from six games. “It’s a new game of cricket every time you step on the field, it’s not the same that you played in the last game.

“(Kochi) wasn’t the same as the Australia series, it was a different sort of wicket. We should be good enough to adapt to any sort of conditions or wickets that we play on. We switched gears pretty quickly from the Australia series and showed that we are a side that can adapt to different conditions and play smart cricket.”