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Greatness beckons

Virat Kohli is en route to claiming the ‘greatest of all time’ tag in Indian cricket. It’s been a phenomenal year for the newly-minted ODI and T20 captain. Irrespective of format, he has been relentless in his pursuit of excellence. In the past year across international games, Kohli totalled 2595 runs at a stunning average of 86.50. Statistics indicate that only six batsmen have ever scored more international runs in a calendar, although none of them has done so at an average matching Kohli’s. These are mindboggling numbers. 

In his first game as ODI captain against England on Sunday, he went on to score his 27th ODI century, and in the process equaling Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 17 ODI centuries while chasing. Led by Kohli’s momentous knock, allied with a blitzkrieg of an innings from Kedar Jadhav, Team India chased down a target of 351 with a little less than two overs left. Incredibly, England posted their highest ever ODI score in India on Sunday. For a team battered in the recent Test series, and on the cusp of securing an advantage in the first ODI with India at 63/4, Kohli and Jadhav’s partnership must have been a real soul-sapping experience. While Indian cricket administration is hitting new lows, Sunday’s victory saw the dawn of a promising new era for the men’s team. 

Earlier this month, Dhoni announced to step down as captain of the limited-overs teams earlier this month, leaving Kohli in charge of the Test, ODI and T20 teams. His brilliance with bat notwithstanding, the year 2017 presents Kohli with an opportunity to mould a team in his image. As the ultimate team man, allied with an incredible appetite for success, unabashed aggression, grit and experience, it would be fascinating to witness how Team India evolves under Kohli. As Test captain, he has already made a significant mark. 

As ODI captain, Kohli will set his immidiate sights on the Champions Trophy this year. There are many unpolished diamonds in the current set-up. Under his leadership, these talents have a leader who can guide them towards international success. The pursuit of excellence has always marked Kohli’s career. Starting out, he began with obvious flaws in his technique and temperament. With every passing year, however, he has improved markedly, leaving behind his peers. It’s hard to gauge when Kohli will hit his peak as a batsman, and he’s only 28. What’s even more extraordinary is his penchant for performing better when given more responsibility. Unlike many great players of yesteryear, Kohli does not seem to have been weighed down by the burden of captaincy. In fact, he has thrived. Long may that continue!
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