Is Virat Kohli the best T20I batsman ever?

Is Virat Kohli the best T20I batsman ever?

The first edition of the T20 World Cup was a glorious one for Team India as the sub-continent nation went on to lift the trophy under the leadership of MS Dhoni. It was believed that this team will rule the world in the shortest format of the game. However, it was far from reality as India was bundled out of the T20 World Cup in 2009 and 2010. They did play well at the start of the tournament but when it came to crucial matches, the pressure of chasing down the totals proved too much for them. There was no player in the middle order who could soak up the pressure and this is why the Men in Blue ended on a losing side.

 

India were on the verge of facing the same fate in the next edition of the event which was held in Sri Lanka in 2012. The team led by MS Dhoni easily defeated England and Afghanistan in the group stage. According to the format of the tournament, the best two teams from each group made it to the Super 8 stage. India, along with Pakistan, Australia and South Africa were part of one group while the other half had Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies and England. India were comprehensively defeated by Australia and this is where their chances of qualifying for the semis were diminished. They had a task of winning the next two games against Pakistan and South Africa in order to give them a glimpse of playing in the knock-out stage. The bowlers did a fabulous job by restricting Pakistan at a partly score of 128 runs.

 

Despite an easy target, Gautam Gambhir, the Indian batsman departed without troubling the scorers. The memories of being poor chasers started hitting the mind of Indian fans as there was no one who could lead the chase in the middle order. The worries were laid to rest with the arrival of Virat Kohli at the crease, who didn’t let Pakistani bowlers to settle down from the first ball. He was in total control and this match saw the birth of a new Indian hero as far as T20 format was concerned. The right hand batsman scored a match winning 78 runs not-out off just 61 balls. The manner in which he carried his innings was praiseworthy as it was not easy to negotiate the line and length of the opposite bowlers. He went on to score 185 runs in 5 games with two fifties in the T20 World Cup. It was this edition, which established him at the world stage and he has not looked back since then. The next T20 World Cup was played in Bangladesh and Virat Kohli ensured that his team reached the finale of the tournament. He was the best batsman of the event scoring 319 runs in 6 games with the help of 4 fifties. India was defeated by Sri Lanka in the finals but Virat was adjudged Man of the Tournament for his consistency with the bat. In one of the matches of the ongoing T20 World Cup against Pakistan, he once again proved that he is the best in business at the moment.

 

Virat Kohli negotiated India to a vital World T20 victory over Pakistan at raucous Eden Gardens. Kohli made 54 in his side’s successful chase of 119 for four in a rain-affected 18-over clash in Kolkata, after the tournament hosts had stared down the barrel of an almost inevitable early exit from the tournament when they were reduced to 23 for three early in their innings. Mixing elegance and experience, Kohli put on 51 with Yuvraj Singh to steady the ship and then partnered MS Dhoni to steer India to a famous victory over their neighbors and fierce rivals, who had earlier made 118 for five. He has become the most prolific T20 batsman in a short span of time. There is hardly any bowler who has troubled him in the last few years when it comes to the slam bang version of the game. He has helped his team in winning the closely contested games. He has accumulated 1446 runs in just 40 T20 international games with a staggering average of 53.55, which is enough to prove his credentials in the toughest format of the game. It is one version which doesn’t gives a player too long to settle down and seeing Virat’s performance over the years, it seems that he is tailor made for T20 games. He is already India’s highest run getter in T20 international matches. Rohit Sharma (1219), Suresh Raina (1163) and Yuvraj Singh (1110) are the other leading run-scorers for India, who have started their careers before Virat. If we talk about his credentials on a global stage, he is the frontrunner. Brendon McCullum, the former New Zealand skipper, has scored the most runs in T20 international matches. He has amassed 2140 runs with the help of 13 fifties in 70 innings.

 

On the other hand, Virat Kohli has the same number of fifties in just 38 matches. Even his average of 52.61 is way above than McCullum’s 35.66. I know Virat Kohli has played less matches than the former Kiwi batsman but still it is very tough to maintain the type of momentum Virat has achieved in his T20 career. The Indian vice-captain ranks 12th in the list of all-time leading run scorers in T20 internationals but he has the best average among this elite list. Apart from this, his average stands above 80 while chasing targets in this format of the game. He is ruling batting charts since long and there is no way of stopping him in the near future. The form of a batsman in T20 matches is calculated on the basis of his ability with the bat, his composure during tough times and the rate with which he leads his country towards win. If we put Virat Kohli on these parameters, he is way better than all his opponents and is doing great things with his bat since long. No matter how he performs in few matches in the near future, there won’t be any doubt on his talent and technique in the most challenging and result oriented format. As a batsman, Virat Kohli has already entered in the list of modern day greats and if he continues in the same fashion, he is sure to pass everyone in the list of run-getters in T20 internationals. He has held Team India’s middle order together in the past and we expect the same from him in the near future as well.


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