India skipper Virat Kohli has taken his game to a different level altogether in the ongoing South Africa tour. After amassing 286 runs at an average of 47.66 on some of the most difficult pitches in the three-match Tests series, the 29-year-old scored three more one-day international tons in the recently concluded six-match ODI series against the Proteas.
Kohli became the first batsman in the history of ODI cricket to amass more than 500 runs in a bilateral ODI series. Virat finished the series with 558 runs at an incredible average of 186. While Kohli’s 112 in the first ODI at Durban helped India recording a 6-wicket victory, his unbeaten 160 in the third ODI at Cape Town ensured a whopping 124-run victory for the visitors.
Kohli put on yet another show in the sixth ODI at Centurion on Friday (February 16) as India chased down South Africa’s paltry target of 205 with 8 wickets in hand and 107 balls to spare. Virat remained unbeaten on 129 off 96 balls to complete a 5-1 ODI series win over South Africa.
Seeing Virat’s consistency in the last few years, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly has said that Kohli has taken a giant stride in international cricket after taking over the captaincy and his last three years have been phenomenal.
"Absolutely fantastic and one man, Virat Kohli. He has only got better and better and shouldered the responsibility in the one-day series. Three hundreds in six games, phenomenal player. 35 hundreds in 208 games and he still has 7-8 years of cricket left. What we have seen in the last three years of Virat Kohli, he is batting at another level. Whether he continues that for the next 7-8 years, only time will tell but what we have seen in these three years has been phenomenal," Ganguly told India Today.
Fondly known as Prince of Kolkata, Ganguly feels that Kohli can surpass Tendulkar's record of 49 ODI centuries.
“I have seen Sachin, this fellow is right up there in one-day cricket. If he (Kohli) keeps playing like this, the record (Sachin Tendulkar's 49 ODI hundreds) will go some day. Form is something very important in cricket and still 14 hundreds are left, which is a long long way. If anybody gets past Sachin's 49, it will be this man,” he added.
Ganguly further went on to say that Kohli making centuries is not a big deal anymore considering his high standards.
"Everytime he scores a century and I hear someone say 'chalo ek aur 100 kar dia' (he has scored another hundred) and that's the mindset he has given to people watching. Today was a walk in the park, he smashed it wherever he wanted to and there's no pressure when he bats," Dada commented.
Such is Kohli’s domination in One-Day International cricket that he now boasts 21 hundreds in chasing in which India have emerged victorious on 19 occasions. Moreover, the 29-year-old averages a mind-boggling 58.11 after 208 ODIs with 9588 runs. Besides, he is the only batsman on the planet to have an average of over 50 in the Twenty-20 format after 55 games.
India will now take on South Africa in a three-match T20 series from Sunday (February 18).