Virat Kohli has established himself as the leading batsman in world cricket, producing a level of excellence in the middle. The India skipper has been outstanding in all three formats of the game, recently reaching 25 Test hundreds in fewer innings than the great Sachin Tendulkar.
Kohli is the standard that all players in sport are striving to reach, but he continues to raise his game – at times carrying his team single-handedly to success. His most recent century for his team – the 25th – came against Australia in Perth and even that was not enough to guide India to a victory in the second Test. India slipped to a defeat, allowing the Baggy Greens to tie the four-match series at 1-1.
The contest is now wide open for the rest of the series, with India backed in the latest cricket betting odds at 11/8 to win the series. A lot will rest on the form of their captain, while Australia are vulnerable without their star man Steve Smith in the middle order. During Smith’s suspension for ball tampering, Kohli has surpassed him at the top of the world rankings, although he was on the rise before the fact after a slow start to his Test carer.
Kohli had been imperious in the 50-over and T20 formats, especially in ODIs where his record is unmatched by any player in the history of the game. The 30-year-old averages almost 60 in the 50-over game, scoring an incredible 38 centuries. For all of his dominance in the shorter format, he did not have initial success transferring his incredible talent to the Test match arena. Kohli struggled against England in the 2014 series when he scored just 134 runs in five matches, leaving his average in the low thirties at the end of 2014. He managed to find a semblance of form in 2015, but he was nowhere near the standard of performer that he is now.
Kohli began his era of dominance in 2016, surpassing the 1,000-run mark in a calendar year for the first time his career. He earned his revenge against England, putting Alastair Cook’s men to the sword by notching two decisive centuries, including a double hundred to allow his team to a 4-0 triumph over the Three Lions. The following year would be even more fruitful for the India skipper, dominating Sri Lanka on home soil, with an unbeaten century and two double hundreds. Now he had established himself as one of the leading batsmen in the world, but with Smith and Joe Root for company.
Smith’s suspension and Root’s issues against Australia while inheriting the captaincy offered a platform to the top for Kohli and he grasped it with both hands. He took his skills in the middle to a new level, displayed an incredible level of performance. The 30-year-old fared well enough against South Africa, although it was not enough to guide his side to victory. His displays were not in question against arguably the best attack in the world.
Kohli’s biggest test came against England on the road where he had famously struggled against the moving ball. At Edgbaston when his team needed a performance, he scored 149 – his first score over 50 in England, albeit with a slice of luck after being dropped early in his innings. He would notch 593 runs in his 10 innings, notching another century in a winning effort at Trent Bridge. The support was not there from the rest of the team to support the skipper as India lost the series 4-1. The series against Australia could be trending in the same direction, although in the absence of Smith, Kohli could be the decisive factor between the teams.