Virat Kohli – A Statistical Genius or a Batting Masterclass?

Virat Kohli – A Statistical Genius or a Batting Masterclass?

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Virat Kohli – A Statistical Genius or a Batting Masterclass?
In 2008, a young, chubby and beardless bloke with long eyebrows captained India to its 2nd ever U-19 World Cup title. Virat Kohli scored 235 runs at 47.00 and gave the world a glimpse of what was to come. Cut to 8 years forward, he is the captain of the Indian Test team and the vice-captain in the limited overs. Not only that, he also sports a thick beard and is the poster boy of Indian Cricket.

Yet, that’s just the other side of him. The cricketing side of him is far more superior and shadows what he does off the field. There are 2 approaches to analyse Virat Kohli, the player – his numbers and his mind-set. The way he goes about in the run chases and the way he conducts his batting is still a mystery to many. If you merely look at the numbers, his genius will waft through.

MatchesInnsRunsAvgSR100s50sHS
TESTS4172299444.0252.921112169
ODIs171163721251.5189.972536183
T20s4340164158.60135.1701690*
First-Class73120524348.1054.841820197
List A205196865450.9090.592944183
Twenty20191179565939.02130.54041199

So, is he a statistical Genius? It seems so. An average above or near 45 in all formats of the game. Also, Virat Kohli is one of those players who, when scores a half-century, converts it into rather a big one. Only a good average is not an indication of genius, nor is only a healthy strike rate. But, if you combine an average of above 50 with a strike rate of 90, it only means that the player is scoring 45 runs in every match in just 50 balls.

His TEST match record is not that impressive as his One Day record but, it is on the rise. Also, all these runs that Kohli accumulates , be it Tests, ODIs, T20Is, he scores them traditionally; not by playing unorthodox shots or using power but, by playing classical strokes and relying on technique and timing. That is something I will always admire in a player.

Virat Kohli - A Statistical Genius or a Batting Masterclass

The recent string of T20 performances for India, including the World Cup indicates that he is a player with All-Round ability; not in batting/bowling sense but, in the sense that he can bat equally well in all 3 formats of the game. Kohli has matured enough as a batsman. Just looking at his record suggests that he places his innings very well and knows when to cut loose or drop anchor.

Another thing that Virat Kohli has done is that he has created a good batting core along with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay. The batsmen seem to get motivated by his string of performances and feel obligated to perform as well, if not outclass him. That’s advantage India. Virat Kohli is like that magic sponge which soaks up all liquid. He soaks up majority of the pressure while batting thus allowing other batsmen to bat with ease.

Coming to his favourite part – chasing. He chases like no one else does. He makes small task of even the biggest or the toughest of totals. He averages 60 odd while chasing with a strike rate of 90 and 14 centuries. Staggering . What allows him to achieve this? The reason follows next…

Cricket is not only about statistics. Kohli’s pre-eminence in ODI chases is more about the mindset with which he comes to bat. Perhaps it’s the fact that he has a set target in mind which helps him place the innings in an effective way. Kohli has superseded the likes of Michael Bevan and even M S Dhoni for that matter, when it comes to finishing matches. So much so that an Indian won’t be surprised if you tell him that Kohli scored a century while chasing and was there till the end to finish the match. Such is the charisma of this man. His technique is flawless(except his weakness outside the off-stump against the swinging ball), and his determination, imponderable .

The confidence that he exudes while batting is readily absorbed by the others, thus creating a lively environment to bat. Another aspect of his batting is the ability to run quickly between the wickets. So, even if he is not scoring boundaries, he is keeping the scoreboard ticking. Hardly do you ever see Virat Kohli eating up dot balls and creating pressure on the batsman at the other end or the batsmen to follow. He is a player who will take up the task of winning the match all upon himself and even achieve it. Isn’t that what it takes to make a good captain?

If you look at the Fab 4 – Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson, they all have some common abilities which make them the players they are. They have a good and positive mindset which help them apply themselves better at the crease. They play classical cricketing shots with great skill and techniques, thus making them less vulnerable and less predictable. Perhaps this is what helps them score runs in the magnitude they do.

Virat Kohli as India’s TEST captain is very good. He is of the aggressive brand of cricketers, which is the requirement to carry forward a team these days. But, the important question we all ask is this – “What brings about this level of consistency in Virat Kohli?” Perhaps it’s the fact that he is not chasing genius, he is creating one.

So, the question is whether he is a Statistical Genius or a Batting Masterclass. The answer is that he is a Statistical Genius and a Batting Masterclass.

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