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Workhorse Virat Kohli thriving under pressure, set for more fireworks vs Australia

With 102 matches, Virat Kohli is third after Sachin Tendulkar (185) and Mohammed Azharuddin (126) to have played the most number of consecutive ODI matches. His drive for excellence has kept him on the boil each time he is in the middle and one is sure to witness more class in the upcoming Indian cricket team vs Australia cricket team series

india vs australia 2017 Updated: Sep 14, 2017 20:28 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Chennai
India vs Australia,IND vs AUS,Virat Kohli
Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli plays an insane number of matches every year for the country and his Indian Premier League (IPL) side Royal Challengers Bangalore. The skipper, however, is relentless in his pursuit of perfection and one can expect him to be bang on the money in the upcoming series vs Steve Smith’s Australia cricket team (Getty Images)

While Virat Kohli is being deified like Sachin Tendulkar, the workload he shoulders should not go unnoticed. Statistically, Kohli has surpassed his hero’s record of most centuries while chasing in less than half the matches Tendulkar had played establishing that record.

But what the India captain has achieved can’t be measured purely in runs, records or the number of matches he has helped India win. The actual game time spent by him is mind-boggling.

Among Indians, he is third after Sachin Tendulkar (185) and Mohammed Azharuddin (126) on the list of most consecutive ODIs with 102 matches. This was between August 25, 2010 and March 5, 2014. His streak snapped at 102 because the 103rd match, against England in Bristol on August 25, 2014, had been washed out without a ball being bowled.

Had that not happened, Kohli would have been ‘162 not out’ in just over seven years before this series. Tendulkar’s record was created over eight years, Azhar’s came in just less than six.

Now add to this the Tests, T20Is and the insane number of IPL matches Kohli plays every year. Tendulkar didn’t play IPL till the 19th year of his career. Kohli played his first IPL match four months before his international debut.

Viewed from this perspective, Kohli has done a phenomenal job of not only enduring the physical grind but also thriving in the pressure of delivering almost every match. It’s a feat that has remained unmatched so far. Among contemporary batsmen, only MS Dhoni has more unbeaten knocks (43) than Kohli (26) while chasing but that’s also because he bats lower down the order.

Among others, only Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have had long careers but have been either injured or dropped quite a few times as well. Rohit still holds out hope with 18 unbeaten knocks out of 99 innings at an average of 40.64, but it’s still less than Kohli’s who averages 67.10 with 26 not outs in 106 innings. Dhawan averages 44.89 batting second but he has remained unbeaten on a dismal four occasions out of 52 innings.

With Dhawan ruled out of the first three ODIs now and the middle order also going through a transition, Kohli again looks to be the biggest hope if India are asked to chase big totals. In such a significant series against Australia, that can’t be good.

The responsibility of being Virat Kohli is huge. The selfless person he is though, Kohli will never allow himself to be bogged down by any challenge. But maybe those around him could step up to the plate more often so that Kohli could concentrate on leading the team better in this marquee series.

First Published: Sep 14, 2017 20:12 IST