Virat Kohli's rich vein of form continued on Sunday (October 21) as the India skipper smashed his 36th ODI century to help his team beat West Indies by eight wickets in the first ODI at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati.
Kohli, who returned to the Indian side to play the two-match Test series against West Indies after missing the Asia Cup in UAE, looked at absolute ease in the 50-over format, despite not featuring in a limited-overs match for more than three months.
Chasing a daunting target of 323, India lost Shikhar Dhawan (4) early. However, Kohli (140) along with his deputy Rohit Sharma (152*) shared a massive 246-run partnership for the second wicket to seal the deal with 7.5 overs to spare.
Seeing the batting exhibition of Kohli and Rohit, former South Africa cricketer Jonty Rhodes, in an exclusive interview with Sportstar, said: “It was a dominating show and the duo batted beautifully, especially Kohli. Kohli's batting has been a treat to watch - nothing to take away from Rohit - but Kohli looks simply unstoppable.”
The Indian captain is on the verge of entering the 10,000 ODI runs club. He is just 81 runs short of becoming the fastest batsman to achieve this feat.
“I am just blown away by his conversion rates and his sheer consistency. When I was a player, I got three Test and two ODI hundreds. I got a lot of fifties (17 Test and 33 ODI 50's) but I couldn't really convert my fifties into big hundreds. But look at Kohli's conversions rates and it's phenomenal. You straightaway compare him with Tendulkar, who started at 16 and played till he was 40. I don't think with the amount of cricket Kohli is playing he will be able to get that amount of runs but he is certainly a modern day great. The sheer determination to keep winning games for India makes him a special cricketer,” Rhodes added.
With less than 10 months to go for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England, Rhodes also shared his thoughts on the team’s chances at the marquee event.
“I feel the sub-continent teams will do well and India, of course, is a very strong contender. The last Champions Trophy was played in England and three out of four teams were from the sub-continent. Playing Tests in England is challenging for sub-continent teams but when it comes to white ball cricket, it's a different ball game altogether. It's just not about pace and swing as spin will come into play and India has quality spinners. India definitely has the edge but you can't underestimate the rest,” he opined.
“Most people have written off Pakistan after the Asia Cup debacle. But they have some quality players and can really spring a surprise. The key in England will be to keep taking wickets else the batsmen will dominate. That's where India's strength lies as it has got wrist spinners (Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal) and fast bowlers (Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah) who are accurate when it comes to execute the yorkers and extract reverse swing to trouble the batsmen,” the Proteas great explained.
Responding to the spot-fixing claims on some England, Australia and Pakistan players in the latest documentary released by broadcaster Al Jazeera, Rhodes said: “The game isn't played just for the fans. Players will tell you that they take a lot of pride and prestige to represent their country. I think the game's governing body is taking steps in the right direction and is taking actions against the players who get involved in such things.”
“I don't know the exact details of the investigation but I am sure they will take the necessary action. I have seen that during my playing time and Cricket South Africa did take action against Hansie Cronje (banned for life). Spot-fixing, I think it's difficult to regulate with so much cricket being played,” he concluded.