Former Australia captain says Indian ace is the best batsman in the world but his game needs improving
India's Virat Kohli bats during their second Twenty20 international cricket match against England at Vidarbha cricket association stadium in Nagpur, India, Sunday, Jan 29, 2017.
Abu Dhabi: Virat Kohli is the greatest batsmen in world cricket but not the “complete, all-round package” and therefore cannot be considered greater than his illustrious Indian compatriot Sachin Tendulkar.
That’s the view of the former Australia captain, Ricky Ponting, who is well placed to assess the pair given that he was one of the finest batsmen ever and played against both.
Ponting, who retired in 2012, is second in the list of all-time leading Test run-scorers with 13,378 runs behind Tendulkar’s 15,921 accumulated in 200 Tests.
The current India captain Kohli, 28, has amassed 4,209 runs from 53 Tests — but it his devastating prowess in all forms of the game that have led to some calling him superior to Tendulkar.
After 177 One-Day International matches, Tendulkar had scored 5,211 runs, while Kohli has 7,692.
“Is he the best batsman in the world? Yeah, he probably is,” Ponting told Gulf News in an exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
“I thought he was six or seven months ago and he’s probably taken it to another level since then.”
Ponting added that there “was always a question mark over his Test batting” but that Kohli’s “pretty special” form in India’s recent 4-0 evisceration of England, when he scored two tons and 655 runs in eight innings at an average of 109.16, had helped quash this theory.
“He’ll continue to improve, especially now that he’s the captain as well and his team’s winning,” the 42-year-old added at a press conference at the Park Hyatt hotel on Saadiyat Island ahead of the Gary Player Invitational golf event at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
“Is it too premature to call him the best ever? You can probably say that right now as far as his One-day cricket is concerned. His One-day record is outstanding and probably better than anybody that’s ever played the game given how many hundreds (27) he’s made, but let’s give him a few years yet in the Test series side of things.
“It’s too early yet to be taking about him being one of the greats. I think the great players we always talk about, the Tendulkars, the Laras, the Kallises, those guys played 120, 130-200 Test matches.
“Virat’s not even halfway along that path.”
Ponting, who retired after a stellar 17-year-career with Australia, was emphatic in his response when asked whether it was too early to call Kohli better than Tendulkar.
“Oh, absolutely. The great thing about Sachin was his longevity in the game. To think about someone playing 200 Test matches is quite remarkable and still maintain the standards over such a long period of time.
“I think that’s the difference between the really, really great players and the great players is the longevity and how long they can perform at a certain level for.”
Ponting agreed that Kohli needed to “dominate in England and South Africa” in order to cement his greatness.
His only previous Test appearances in England, for example, came in 2014, when he made 134 runs in five Tests at 13.40 in England’s 3-1 series win.
“He’s not the complete, all-round package yet,” Ponting said.
Ponting’s former Australia teammate, Mike Hussey, recently advised the Baggy Greens not to sledge the combustible Kohli when they travel to India for a four-Test series later this month.
Ponting is unsure whether he agrees with this, although he admits that “you leave some players, such as Brian Lara, alone” as any provocation can inspire rather than rile them.
But he added: “The one thing about Virat Kohli is whenever there’s any confrontation, he does get a little bit outside of his comfort zone. You can see that he gets ultra-aggressive, which may be a good thing for him or maybe good for the opposition.
“We will wait and see what happens. I think he’s a similar sort of character to me as well. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s pretty animated. He’s a very aggressive player.”
If he were still Australia captain — he performed this role between 2004 and 2011 — how would he attempt to neutralise Kohli’s impact?
“The Aussies will know any chink in the armour that he might have and they’ll try and expose it.
“One thing I learnt about playing in India is the momentum that the home team can create, you have to try and stop that.
“Someone like Virat, you have to take his boundary-scoring areas away and make him score his runs in different areas or make him bat for a longer time to make his runs.”
Written by Sriram Veera | Updated: October 25, 2017 8:25 amIn One-Day Internationals, it seems, Virat Kohli will only be restricted by his own limits of imagination and ambition.
Virat Kohli has the most runs (8,888), best average (55.55) and most hundreds (31) than any other batsman after 200 ODIs. With 31 tons, he has gone past Ricky Ponting; only Tendulkar’s 49 remains to be caught up. In One-Day Internationals, it seems, he will only be restricted by his own limits of imagination and ambition. Here is a look at some of the highlights of his career.
Better average overseas than Tendulkar
Tendulkar was the lodestar of Indian cricket for decades but even he averaged only 37.24 in the ODIs overseas, considerably less than his overall average of 44.83. Kohli averages 47.29 overseas, (55.55 overall), and has 18 hundreds away from home. Tendulkar had 29 though.
It’s well known that he is the best chaser in ODIs but it’s worth stressing again how good he is. In 113 matches, he averages 65.73 with 19 hundreds and 27 fifties. And consider this astonishing stat: an average 5.94 innings per hundred in chases. Tendulkar had 17 of his 49 hundreds while batting second; Kohli has 19 out of 31 in chases.
– Kohli has 17 hundreds in successful chases, the most by any batsman. Tendulkar comes second with 14 centuries in chases when India won.
95.11 Kohli’s average in successful chases — the most for any batsman who has tallied 3,000 runs or more. Brian Lara comes second with an average of 68.58.Only Ponting has tallied more runs than Kohli in successful chases but with 4,186 runs, Ponting has just one run more than Kohli.
1,000-plus runs and four or more tons
Kohli is the 5th batsman to score 1,000-plus runs in a year five or more times. Tendulkar has done it 7 times while Ganguly, Sangakkara and Ponting have done it 6 times. However, in those seasons he has tallied 1000-plus, Kohli is the only batsman to score four or more hundreds each time. He is the second batsman after AB de Villiers to score consecutive hundreds 5 or more times.
Tendulkar and Ponting Vs Kohli
After 200 matches, Tendulkar, who was a slow starter in ODIs, needing 76 matches for his first century, had 7,305 runs. Kohli has 8,888. Sachin averaged 41.97 to Kohli’s 55.55. Ponting needed 349 innings to score his 30th hundred; Kohli got there in his 186th innings. Kohli has improved steadily. He averaged 45.67 in his first 50 games, 51.81 in the second, 57.83 in the third and 68.10 in the last 50.
Non-opener with high conversion rate
Only Hashim Amla and David Warner, both openers, have a better conversion – the fifties to hundreds – than Kohli’s 40.78%. He has converted 31 of his 76 scores of 50 or more into hundreds.
Will age slow him down?
The good news is that he is just 29 but there is another trend from cricket history that should please Virat Kohli fans. Among the top 10 run-scorers in ODIs, only Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis had a small dip in their averages in the second half of their careers – after 200 ODIs. Everybody else ratcheted up more hundreds and more runs in the second half – Kumar Sangakkara, for example, hit 19 of his 25 hundreds after 200 ODIs.
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