When it comes to batsmanship across all three formats, India skipper Virat Kohli is no less than a monster. Virat has scored 35 one-day international hundreds – only behind his batting hero Sachin Tendulkar (49) with 21 of them in run-chases.
He averages a mind-boggling 58.10 in ODIs from 208 matches with 9588 runs while his T20I average reads 48.58 in 59 matches with 1992 runs. Not long ago, Kohli had the average of more than 50 in the shortest format as well.
Virat has also proved his mettle in the traditional format of cricket, scoring 5554 runs at an impressive average of 53.40 in 66 matches thus far. He boasts of 21 tons in Tests with 6 of them being double.
Recently, some of the England cricket experts shared their opinions on the Indian captain, who has taken the sporting fraternity by storm with the willow in his hand.
“He's such a good all-round player, red ball or white ball. He's one of the top two or three players in the world, if not the best in the world, so what makes him a great player? A combination of things stand out - technical excellence and an absolute drive and hunger to succeed being two,” former England captain Michael Atherton told Sky Sports.
“Also, in this day and age where Twenty20 has expanded the way that batsmen play all around the wicket, he's got all of those shots as well. So it's a mixture of many things but I think what really separates the great sportsmen, in the end, is that desire to keep on performing and improving. I don't think it's in his nature to sit back and say: "That's as good as I can be". That is really what separates the best from the rest - that constant desire to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible. You see that in his behaviour and his manner out in the middle. He's never satisfied,” he added.
Despite his awe-inspiring record all over the world, Virat hasn’t been able to perform at his best in red-ball cricket on English soil. With just 134 runs in five Test matches at a dismal average of 13.40, doing well in England is a top priority for the Delhi lad.
Former England batsman Mark Butcher reckons that Kohli will have an incredible series this time around given his appetite and passion.
“He's had a rough time of things in England before, he just hasn't been able to get going. It is a real burning desire of his to not only come over here and win but prove to everybody that he can play in English conditions. I hope English fans get to see the best of him over here because if that happens, particularly in the Test matches, we will get an incredible series,” Butcher quoted.
“When Virat is on the park, everybody knows that there is a battle on. There is very rarely a dull moment and as captain of India he will get in the opposition's face and won't take a backward step. All of that means we should end up with a fantastic backend to the summer. I, for one, can't wait,” he further said.
Echoing Butcher’s views, ex-England opening batsman Nick Knight said: “He's played exceptionally well over a long period of time now and I'm of the opinion that he probably will crack it in England this time around. I know Anderson and Stuart Broad will prove to be a testing opening for him when he first comes in but I suspect he will have learnt from the last time he was here and will have made adjustments to cope with English conditions.”
Expressing his admiration for Virat Kohli, former England and Kent batsman Rob Key hailed him as the best batsman of modern era.
“You can almost go back to the nature versus nurture argument. Is it just like Sachin Tendulkar and he is one in a billion? He is just so much better, at the moment, than anyone else. If you look at it from a technical point of view, he is pure - has very little moment, plays with a very straight bat but then he has the flair and the finesse to use his wrists better than anyone else. He is a real trailblazer, actually, along with Kevin Pietersen, in how they've brought the bottom hand into top-level cricket,” Key remarked.
“I don't think you can compare Virat and Sachin's eras in white-ball cricket as the rules - two balls, fielding restrictions - have changed so much. Just look at the hundreds scored and the top scores in white-ball cricket since Sachin retired. Kohli will probably get to Sachin's record number of ODI hundreds but you can call them equal. Sachin was the best in his era, Kohli is the best in his,” he elaborated.
Former England women cricketer Isa Guha, who has seen some of his Kohli’s best innings while commentating in the Indian Premier League, termed the Indian captain as ‘effortless’.
“His batting is effortless, really. It's simple batting. He knows his strengths, he knows his areas and he is able to get on top of the bowlers. He almost seems to know exactly where the ball will be pitched whenever he's on strike. Kohli scores so freely. He's like Joe Root in that before you know it, he's on 30 off 20 balls. He is also the master of the chase - he calculates so the risks so perfectly,” Isa opined.
“He's obviously worked on his game so that he can compete against the moving ball here in England and what everyone is waiting for is that Kohli-Jimmy Anderson battle in the Test matches. He works so hard - that's another reason why he is the greatest. He has an innate ability to keep striving and he knows exactly what he needs to do to be prepared for a series. He is ambitious and ruthless,” she concluded.
(With Sky Sports inputs)