India skipper Virat Kohli continued his domination in the limited-overs cricket as he recorded his 35th One-day International hundred in the sixth and final ODI against South Africa at SuperSport Park, Centurion on Friday (February 16).
It was Kohli’s third century in the six-match ODI series and he became the first batsman in the history of cricket to amass more than 500 runs in a bilateral ODI series. The 29-year-old finished the series with 558 runs at an incredible average of 186 as India complete a 5-1 ODI series victory over South Africa.
Seeing Indian captain’s batting prowess in recent times, chief coach Ravi Shastri has said that Virat is the best batsman in the world currently for his sheer impact on the game.
“It’s not just about averages, it is the way you get runs, when you get it, and the impact those runs have on what the team does. I would simply say he is the best batsman in the world now,” Shastri quoted while addressing the media after the sixth ODI in Centurion.
“You spoke of intensity. Where does the intensity come from? When you have a leader like that, who leads by example, the other guys jolly well follow. Otherwise they know what to expect. That's the beauty about this team on this trip where I feel proud as a coach about my boys and the intensity they showed,” he added.
Shastri also praised the team for showing immense character after being 0-2 down in the Test series.
“Even after being two-zero down in the Test series, for them to show that kind of character to come back and win that Test match in Johannesburg on a spiteful pitch. And to then take that momentum into the one-day series and show the consistency they have shown over the last two weeks is fabulous.
"Entire credit should go to the leader because he has led from the front, first with his batting and then as I said with his intensity, which makes other people in the team also up the ante,” he commented.
India’s wrist spinners, Kuldeep and Chahal have taken 33 wickets between them out of the 64 Proteas wickets that had fallen in the six ODIs. No wonder, Shastri was in full of praise for the spin twins.
“Even in my last stint (as team director), Virat and I have always discussed that we need wickets in the middle overs. We’ve got to somehow be able to attack, find ways of breaking partnerships and not allowing the game to drift. So that was the idea, and then identifying the right kind of people to do the job. Luckily for us, Kuldeep and Chahal have complemented each other beautifully.
"They bring great variety – it’s great for the viewer, it’s great for the spectator to see that kind of variety when they come to watch a cricket match. Not just batting or fielding, but some classic spin bowling,” the coach asserted.
South Africa missed the services of their regular skipper Faf du Plessis during the last five games while AB de Villiers did not feature in the first three games owing to finger injury. Moreover, wicketkeeper batsman Quinton de Kock also got ruled out after the first three games due to wrist injury. However, Shastri rubbished theories that it was weak South African side that was on the park during the ODI series.
"One thing history tells me, I have been coming here since 1992, there is not one South African side in the world that anyone can say is a weak side. You just look at their bilateral record and they are one of the great sides in bilateral cricket.
"I have followed this game for a long time. I have been a broadcaster as well and covered a lot of South Africa’s games and I know how they play. So I would like my boys to enjoy every bit of this series win. Whatever the score line is they must enjoy because it doesn’t happen every day,” Shastri concluded.