India skipper Virat Kohli put on yet another batting exhibition while chasing a target in the sixth and final ODI against South Africa in Centurion on Friday (February 16). Kohli recorded his 35th ODI ton (129 off 96 balls) in reply to South Africa’s total of 204 as India achieved the target with 8 wickets in hand and 107 balls to spare.
It was Kohli’s third century in the six-match ODI series. While Virat’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.
Moreover, Kohli became the first batsman in the history of white-ball 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 yet another Kohli master class, the cricket fraternity has been waxing lyrical in praise of Virat Kohli. While some have termed him as the greatest ODI batsman ever, others are running short adjectives to describe the Indian captain.
Joining the chorus is former India opener Kris Srikkanth, who is in awe of Kohli's confidence as a batsman and as a leader.
"A 5-1 ODI series win for India was very much expected but the way in which Virat Kohli has led from the front is phenomenal. It looks like Kohli enters a cricket field only to score a century. The confidence and the positive attitude with which he goes about his business with the bat is tremendous. His appetite for scoring centuries amazes me and he seldom lets his energy levels drop, be it as a leader or as a batsman," Srikkanth wrote in his latest column for TOI.
The 1983 World Cup winner also praised the Indian bowlers, who have made the mockery of Proteas batting line-up throughout the six ODIs.
"What pleased me more in the final ODI was the contribution of our young pace attack in setting up the comfortable win. The performance of pacers Jasprit Bumrah and newcomer Shardul Thakur showed that we are not only dependent on the spinners in ODIs. It is a great sign for the Indian team going forward," he further wrote.
Having registered an emphatic ODI series win, Team India will now take on South Africa in a three-match T20I series, starting on Sunday (February 18). With the change in format, Srikkanth is expecting a better show from the hosts.
“I expect and hope SA come back with a better performance in the T20s. I believe their batting unit is better suited to the T20 version. It was evident in the manner in which their batsmen showcased an uninhibited display of hitting against the Indian wrist spinners in the rain-truncated fourth ODI, in which they registered their only win of the series,” he wrote.
South Africa have opted to rest many of their leading batsmen and bowlers for this T20I series. However, the batting maverick AB de Villiers is still available and the hosts will count on him to produce the goods.
De Villiers returned from a finger injury to play in the second half of the ODI series but in three matches, he only managed 62 runs. Nonetheless, Srikkanth still counts AB as the biggest hope for the home team.
"Without a doubt, AB de Villiers holds the key on the batting front if SA are to reverse the pressure on the visitors’ bowling attack, which has been exceptional throughout. The bowling department separates both teams. India have a settled bowling unit that is firing on all cylinders. The South African bowling attack is very inexperienced and that’s where they have been behind," Srikkanth concluded.