Virat Kohli gets a perfect 10 in India's report-card after historic South Africa ODI triumph

Ashish Peter 17/02/2018
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The India skipper is setting new standards in ODI cricket.

India completed an unprecedented 5-1 ODI thrashing of South Africa in their own backyard in style with a eight-wicket victory in the final match at Centurion.

The Men in Blue romped away to a maiden series triumph in South Africa on the back of another Virat Kohli century on Friday.

Bar the defeat in the fourth ODI, the visitors have beaten the Proteas in comprehensive fashion over the course of the series.

Here, we look at the player report card of Kohli’s men after their historic feat.

SHIKHAR DHAWAN – 8/10

The opening batsmen finished as the second highest run-getter in the series behind his skipper with 323 runs in six innings at an average of 64.6. Dhawan continued with his trend of playing well against the Proteas with a century and two fifties in the series and his contributions at the top order along with Kohli’s was one of the reasons for India’s dominance.

ROHIT SHARMA – 6/10

While the India deputy skipper’s 115 in the penultimate match remains fresh in the mind, it is not east to ignore that he has had a dismal series otherwise. His scores in the remainder of the matches read 20, 15, 0, 5 and 15, a far-cry from his remarkable and consistent 2016. His century has in fact been the only redeeming factor in an otherwise lean tour.

VIRAT KOHLI – 10/10

Simply faultless. There are just no barriers that the Indian skipper cannot pass. He finished the series in style with his 35th ODI ton and third of the series, aggregating 558 in the six matches at a staggering average of 186. It was the first time that an Indian batsman has crossed the 500-run mark in a bilateral series. At this rate, Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 51 centuries will be broken in no time.

There are simply no adjectives left to describe Kohli.

There are simply no adjectives left to describe Kohli.

AJINKYA RAHANE – 6/10

The middle-order batsman’s series started in fine fashion with a well made 76 in the first ODI. However, it was as good as it got for Rahane whose form took a dip in the matches to follow before regaining it somewhat with a fine unbeaten 34 in the final ODI.

SHREYAS IYER – 5/10

A poor series for the young man. He failed to find a big knock in his limited outings and was guilty of dropping a fair amount of catches in the outfield. With the number four spot still seemingly up for grabs, the youngster might rue not making more from his opportunity in South Africa.

Iyer failed to make the most of his chances.

Iyer failed to make the most of his chances.

KEDAR JADHAV – 5/10

Jadhav played three matches in the series though his batting skills were required only one occasion, where he ended up scoring just the one run. Bowled some part-time off spin but his series was cut short by an injury.

MS DHONI – 7/10

The wicketkeeper-batsman became only the third man in ODI history to effect 600 dismissals and his glove work behind the stumps remains as sharp as ever. His only downside, has been his batting lower down the order where his low strike-rate is starting to become a problem.

Dhoni's glove-work remains top notch.

Dhoni’s glove-work remains top notch.

HARDIK PANDYA – 6/10

Pandya remains an enigma. He was largely ineffective in the first half of the series before turning up with a match-winning performance in the series clincher for India at Port Elizabeth. The all-rounder will want to add some consistency in his performances.

KULDEEP YADAV – 9/10

Some series from one component of India’s wrist spin-twins. The youngster finished as the highest wicket-taker in the series with 17 scalps and had the Proteas batsmen bamboozled with his variations all throughout. The hosts were still finding it hard to pick him in the final ODI which tells you all you need to know about his series.

Kuldeep is fast developing a fearsome reputation.

Kuldeep is fast developing a fearsome reputation.

YUZVENDRA CHAHAL – 9/10

The senior figure in the spin-twins had an equally stupendous series as he fetched 16 wickets with his leg-spin. He had the one bad game in Johannesburg but was otherwise on the money for most of the series. His partnership with Kuldeep was one the most important factors of India’s triumph.

JASPRIT BUMRAH – 8/10

The Mumbai-pacer showed why is he is considered one of the best bowlers in the limited-overs format. He finished as the highest wicket-taker among all pacers and was equally effective at the start as well as in the death overs.

BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR – 6/10

The senior Indian pacer seems to have been suffering from fatigue by the time the series concluded. He picked up only two wickets in the entire series and was showing signs of struggling with his fitness towards the end. Needs a well deserved rest at this point.

The pacer was off colour in the series after looking excellent in the Tests.

The pacer was off colour in the series after looking excellent in the Tests.

SHARDUL THAKUR – 7/10

The young pacer played just the one ODI, the final game, where he finished with a four-wicket haul. His 4-52 are his best figures in his three-match old ODI career so far.

Did not feature – Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel.

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England's best composite XI in the T20 format since its first international outing in 2005

Rory Dollard 17/02/2018
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Root, Collingwood and Stokes all feature in England's best XI.

England will play their 100th T20 international against New Zealand on Sunday.

Here, we pick England’s best composite XI since they first took part in the format in 2005.

1 – ALEX HALES

His merciless 116 not out against Sri Lanka in the 2014 World T20 remains England’s only T20 century. Hales also has scores of 99 and 94 on his CV, evidence of a happy knack of going big once well set.

2 – KEVIN PIETERSEN

Pietersen was truly ahead of his time with his appetite, enthusiasm and aptitude for T20 cricket and his latter career was globetrotting exploits in the short form. Pietersen only opened three times at international level but is bumped up ahead of Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter, who reinvented England’s approach to the powerplay overs, in the interests of team balance.

Pietersen always had an aptitude for T20 cricket.

Pietersen always had an aptitude for T20 cricket.

3 – JOE ROOT

Rested too often for his own liking due to the selectors’ attempts to keep their prized three-format asset in peak condition. Root has nevertheless proven his pedigree in 20-over cricket, most notably when his fine 83 anchored England’s record chase of 230 against South Africa.

4 – EOIN MORGAN

England’s record cap holder, run-scorer, six-hitter and a premier white-ball tactician. The Irishman has been a cornerstone of the T20 team for nine of its 13 years. At his best he deployed a thrilling variety of strokes and was an ice-cold chaser.

The Irishman has been a permanent fixture for England in the format.

The Irishman has been a cornerstone for England in the format.

5 – JOS BUTTLER (WKT)

One of the most inventive batsmen in the history of limited-overs cricket and a neat wicketkeeper to boot. Buttler has scored over a thousand runs at a strike rate of 134.89 and was one of the first players to hit the ball 360 degrees from almost any delivery.

6 – BEN STOKES

The millions of dollars lavished on Stokes in successive IPL auctions are testament to his appeal, but relatively modest statistics suggest his best days in England colours are yet to come. His ability to be a punisher at number six, an authentic pace option and a gun fielder make him irresistible in any selection meeting.

7 – PAUL COLLINGWOOD (C)

The wily all-rounder leads the fantasy XI, just as he led England to their only piece of major white-ball silverware at the 2010 World T20 in Barbados. A born competitor, a reliable contributor with the bat and a handy pace-off seam option on two-paced pitches. Edges Ravi Bopara for this role.

The fierce competitor was a natural leader.

The fierce competitor was a natural leader.

8 – CHRIS JORDAN

The Bajan bowler did the hard yards as England reached the final of the World T20 in India in 2016, bowling powerplay and death overs with heart and accuracy. Owner of a decent yorker, author of countless brilliant catches and capable of contributing with the bat.

9 – STUART BROAD

Based purely on standout moments or anecdotal evidence, the case against Broad is strong – he was clubbed for six sixes in an over by Yuvraj Singh in 2007, offered up the overthrow which handed Holland a stunning victory at Lord’s two years later and captained the team to a group-stage exit in Bangladesh in 2014. But he is also the eighth most prolific wicket-taker in all T20Is, England’s number one and boasts entirely credible strike-rate, economy and average statistics.

10 – GRAEME SWANN

England’s best spin bowler of the T20 era, he swept up 51 wickets in 39 matches as well going at a positively miserly 6.36 runs an over. Any spinner who can contain batsmen and threaten as well is gold dust and Swann was better at both than anyone.

Swann was worth his wait in gold for England.

Swann was worth his wait in gold for England.

11- RYAN SIDEBOTTOM

Coaches all over the world like to have a left-arm option in their short-form team wherever possible and Sidebottom outflanks the likes of David Willey, Harry Gurney, Reece Topley and Tymal Mills. Experienced and in full control of his skills, he was vital in the T20 success eight years ago.

12TH MAN – LUKE WRIGHT

Somehow under-used and under-valued by his country despite earning 51 caps. Went on to become a highly sought-after player on the domestic circuit and skilled in all facets.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Six-fest world record run-chase makes a mockery of New Zealand v Australia T20I clash

Alex Broun 16/02/2018
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The official rule is no boundary on a cricket field can be less than 65 metres.

But after the T20I slogathon at Eden Park, where Australia set a world record for easily chasing down New Zealand’s massive target of 244, someone needs to get out the tape measure.

There were 32 sixes hit in the match, which finished an over early as Australia only needed 19 of their 20 overs to achieve the record mark. So that’s a six on average every seven balls.

With so many balls going into the crowd it’s not surprising one lucky punter picked up NZ$50,000 (Dh135k) from a local sponsor for a one-handed catch.

He was lucky he was the first as somebody else did it on the last ball of the match but unfortunately the sponsor only pays out on one catch per match.

Spare a thought also for Kiwi opening bowler Ben Wheeler who went for an astonishing 0-64 of 3.1 overs.

That’s an average of 3.36 a ball – and the fifth worst bowling figures in the history of T20.

If he had finished the over he certainly would have had the worse.

In the end you can’t blame him for bowling two waist high full tosses at the start of his final over to be no-balled out of the match.

Anything to stop bowling.

Trent Boult then took over to finish the over and went for 12 runs off five balls and took a wicket – so that meant the stats for the over were: one over, two bowlers, 25 runs, three catches (two off no-balls), and one wicket.

As Kane Williamson said after the match: “It was a very good surface, small ground.” You can say that again.

Martin Guptill top scored with 104 off 54 balls (strike rate of 194.44) which in normal circumstances isn’t a bad dig.

But skipper Williamson might want to have a word with his opener for dragging the chain as no less than six of the 15 batsman who took the crease bettered that strike rate.

For New Zealand Colin Munro made 76 off 33 (SR: 230.3), Tim Seifert 12 off six (SR: 200) and Ross Taylor a whopping 17 off just six balls (SR: 283.33).

The Aussies made those run-rates look distinctly glacial: Dave Warner 59 off just 24 (SR: 245.83), Glenn Maxwell 31 off 14 (SR: 221.42) and Aaron Finch 36 off 14 also (SR: 257.14), including the six that won the game.

So what’s the beef? T20 is meant to be all action, plenty of runs, lots of wickets – certainly no one could have left Eden Park saying they were bored.

But cricket is also meant to be a contest between bat and ball and this clearly wasn’t that.

True New Zealand bowled badly. They went for 18 wides and two no-balls, which meant two free hits – 13 runs in total – but it’s not surprising with this kind of hitting the bowlers got a bit crease-shy.

It was the sort of game when the captain tosses you the ball – and you feel like tossing it back.

NZ cricket will point to the fact they had the biggest crowd at Eden Park since the World Cup, cricket’s not rugby, and England will be happy that they can still sneak in the Tri-Series final – thanks to the Aussies coming out on top.

But when the talk is of boundary sizes rather than boundaries something is definitely wrong.

As one wag on Twitter notes: “To be fair, my backyard cricket set up has bigger boundaries than this field.”

Even the official Cricket Australia twitter feed couldn’t keep a straight face, posting a run rate comparison with the words: “This is ridiculous.”

If the ICC rebukes Bangladesh for a sub-par wicket in Chittagong, where batsmen plundered more than 1,500 runs in the recent Bangladesh-Sri Lanka series (Sri Lanka declared at 713 for nine in their first and only innings) then surely New Zealand deserve a similar reprimand.

Final word goes to legendary India cricket commentator Harsha Boghle who tweeted: “Two scores of 240+ in New Zealand in the last two months. Am going to put up a red flag. Flat pitches, small grounds, sixes for fun will make T20 boring. A six has to be an event not a default shot.”

You have to agree.

But get set for more “fun” because guess where the final of the Trans-Tasman Tri-Series is set for on February 21. You got it? Eden Park.

Those sponsors better get ready to pay out another $50k.

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