Millennium Post

A league of his own!

The oomph boy has done it again! The stylish, infamously prickly, can-explode-will-explode Indian captain has managed to establish himself as the most proactively charming, sporting icon that the world is witnessing these days.

From grinning like a lover boy in the field celebrating his team's success, riding atop a nub of immaculate character in commanding fans to be nicer to his Australian opponents, to indulging in brotastic handshakes with his rivals, upholding cricket's mantle of calm and aggression at the same time along with seeking blessings from an 87-year-old super-fan whose presence at India's games have gone viral – he's done it all. And, it is time his character assumed an unexpected arc of its own!

On a rain-laden August afternoon, Virat Kohli, on his way to his 43rd ODI 100, became the only batsman on the planet to score 20,000 international runs in a decade. Kohli's second 100 on the trot on Wednesday night also helped him equal Sachin Tendulkar's record of most number of centuries against a single opposition in ODI cricket.

He is currently averaging 60.31, his highest at the end of an innings in ODI cricket.

Kohli has scored 20,502 runs in all formats, out of which he has scored 20,018 from 2010 onwards. He made his Test and T20I debut in 2010 but had already scored 484 runs in ODI cricket by that point in the previous decade, having made his ODI debut in 2008.

The Indian captain's accomplishment takes him ahead of former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, who held the record for the most international runs scored in a decade with 18,962 runs in the 2000s.

Tendulkar has nine centuries against Australia in ODI cricket whereas Kohli has eight. Both batsmen have eight centuries against Sri Lanka as well.

Kohli scored an unbeaten 114 runs from 99 deliveries including 14 fours. He came in to bat as Rohit Sharma got out in the third over after a terrible mix-up with Shikhar Dhawan. He stitched a crucial 66-run partnership with Dhawan.

After the two quick wickets, he got things back on track with Shreyas Iyer by his side. The two shared a partnership of 120 runs to take the game away from the West Indies and chased down the revised DLS target of 255 with 15 balls to spare.

On the list of most international runs scored in a decade, Kohli is followed by Ricky Ponting (18,962 runs), Jacques Kallis (16,777 runs), Mahela Jayawardene (16,304 runs), Kumar Sangakkara (15,999 runs), Sachin Tendulkar (15,962 runs), Rahul Dravid (15,853 runs) and Hashim Amla (15,185 runs).

Kohli has been breaking batting records at will. The maverick monster is just 30-years-old and already has 77 hundreds to his credit, only 23 less than Sachin Tendulkar's all-time record that, at one point in time, looked impossible to break. His bat is behaving like a toy. He is not only making the craft of batting look absurdly easy but he is also scoring at an unprecedented consistency across all formats of cricket.

This run machine has been on a roll and after a relatively quiet World Cup, by his standards, he is back to doing what he does best – scoring centuries and chasing down totals. There are predictions that with this sensational one-day form, he might just end up with 75-80 centuries in the format.

Not often is cricket described as trailblazing; rather, it's catalytic. The days in the dirt have taught many superstars many important lessons. From spending days spatting with opinionated opponents, missing out narrowly on chests-out clashes, to allowing a transformation of the alter ego, forcing eruption tendencies to settle down into the veins, rendering superhuman strength and energy – cricket has a great levelling quality.

All this has been quite pronounced in Kohli's transformation from an immature, puerile adversary to the one who can laugh off a probable confrontation, an aggressive alpha male who dominates the space around him and makes his bat do the talking.

Talent is indeed a gifted proposition, provided it is saddled with endurance and hard work. The more sweat and muck the nets witness you shedding, the better a player you become. You need to learn to hit hard when you get a full toss, to drive when a half-volley comes your way, to leave an out-swinger, to defend well against an in-swinger and you should also know to duck the unplayable bouncers. There is only a slight shade of difference between good and great players and subsequently, between great and greatest players. Undoubtedly, Kohli belongs to the group of 'greatest'.

After the end of an era – since the 2019 World Cup concluded that is – another phase of cricketing history has begun that leads us to the next World Cup in India in 2023. Many next-gen cricketers' paths have crossed during the recently-concluded ODI series between India and West Indies. Hence, it has become all the more important to regroup and refire.

Kohli is perhaps the best batsman of the modern era. Consistency is his biggest strength. When the Captain plays, records happen automatically. If he continues playing like this for a few more years, all the big records of the game are sure to crumble.

As per the Indian team's current schedule, their next ODI series would be a three-match contest against West Indies in December this year. Then, Team India will play three ODIs each in the first three months of 2020. In January, they will play Australia; in February, New Zealand; and in March, South Africa. Then comes the IPL season, followed by, from October 2020, the World T20 championship.

India is expected to play three ODIs each against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and England between the end of the series against South Africa in March and the World T20 in October.

Now, with a billion expectations on Kohli, we can only hope that he produces the classy cricket he is capable of every time he walks out. South Africa, New Zealand, Australia may not be easy opponents to score centuries against but Kohli has scored many runs already against all of them before.

Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe should be easy; however, there are chances that he is rested for these series. Keeping in mind the World T20, India would not definitely like to cause any enervation for him.

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