India skipper Virat Kohli shows why he's the best all-format player in the history of the game

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Virat Kohli in a league of his own. Image courtesy - @ICC/Twitter.

It has been a summer dominated by Steve Smith alone with the Australian batsman reaffirming his credentials as the best Test batsman in the business with his Herculean displays in the recently concluded Ashes series.

Smith’s extraordinary return of 774 runs in just seven innings at an average greater than 110 has catapulted him back to the top of the ICC Test rankings with the right-hander leaving Virat Kohli in his wake.

While Smith has rightly drawn all the plaudits for his sensational return to Test cricket after a gap of nearly 16 months, Kohli has sent in a timely reminder as to why he is still the best all-format batsman in the game by some distance.

The India skipper was in his element on Wednesday in the first T20 against South Africa and struck an unbeaten 72 to set up a comprehensive seven-wicket win for his side at Dharamsala.

That effortless innings from Kohli has seen his T20I average soar beyond 50 once again after a total of 71 matches. The right-hander is now the only batsman in history to hold a batting average above 50 in all three formats of the game.

To put Kohli’s record into context, just three players average more than 50 in two formats of the game, let alone three. None of his ‘Fab Four’ competitors like Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root hold a batting average greater than 50 in more than one format.

Apart from Kohli, only three batsmen – Babar Azam, Matthew Hayden and AB de Villiers – have managed an average of more than 50 simultaneously across two formats.

To be able to dominate to such an extent in each of the three formats is a testament to Kohli’s adaptability and temperament with the India star getting even better with each passing year. When one sees the likes of Jason Roy and Aaron Finch struggle massively in their transition from limited-overs to red-ball cricket, Kohli’s achievement becomes all the more staggering.

Here, we take a closer look at his numbers in the three international formats.

TEST

Innings: 135

Runs: 6,749

Average: 53.14

wokohli

Kohli has been relatively a late bloomer in the Test format compared to his Fab Four counterparts with the India batsman really coming into his own in 2016 despite making his debut in 2011.

The 30-year-old failed to find his feet instantly in red-ball cricket even though his talent was there for all to see. However, since the turn of 2016, he has racked up 14 Test tons and 10 half-centuries in just 63 innings with some memorable displays on the overseas tours of South Africa, England, Australia and the West Indies.

Only Smith with 26 centuries has registered more Test tons than Kohli (25) among active players with the India superstar now nearing 7,000 runs in the format. With the increased maturity and batting craft that Kohli has shown in the Test circuit in the last three years, his best days are most certainly still ahead of him and he is on course to establish himself as one of the all-time greats.

ODI

Innings: 230

Runs: 11,520

Average: 60.31

kohli

When it comes to the 50-over format, Kohli’s genius has already been established with the India skipper well on his way to overhauling Sachin Tendulkar as the format’s greatest proponent.

He is already eighth on the list of the all-time top-scorers in ODIs and will most definitely finish in the top-two by the time he calls it a day. With 43 tons and 54 fifties already in just 230 innings, it is only a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ with regards to his pursuit of Tendulkar’s 49 centuries.

That he has done it all with a strike-rate of more than 93 makes Kohli’s ODI numbers all the more mind-boggling. With 17 tons in just 62 innings since the turn of 2017 alone, there is no telling where Kohli’s final century tally will end up by the time he retires!

T20I

Innings: 66

Runs: 2,441

Average: 50.85

It would have been easy for Kohli to focus mainly on Tests and ODIs but such is his incredible hunger and drive that he has managed to thrive in equal measure in even the shortest format of the game.

His innings of 72 on Wednesday saw the India man overtake his deputy Rohit Sharma to become the format’s highest run-scorer despite having played 23 innings fewer in comparison.

It was also his 22nd fifty in the format in just 66 innings, which means he registers a half-century in every three innings in T20Is. What makes Kohli’s T20 prowess even more stellar is that he rarely plays an ugly slog or try to force the issue with aggressive shot-making. It is all about conventional batting for the right-hander even in the limited-overs formats and he has mastered the art of racking up the big scores without taking any undue risks.

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Deepak Chahar shows willingness to adapt as he stakes his claim for India T20 role

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Deepak Chahar is making his case for India.

India’s preparations for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia have already started in earnest with the Men in Blue dispatching South Africa with ease in the first of the three scheduled T20s between the two sides on Wednesday.

While an unbeaten 72 from skipper Virat Kohli’s led India’s charge with the bat against the Proteas, it was Deepak Chahar who was the chief architect of the win with ball in hand at Dharamsala.

Playing in only his second T20I for India, the 27-year-old seamer bagged the crucial wickets of Reeza Hendricks and the well-set Temba Bavuma to finish with excellent figures of 2-22 from his four overs.

Chahar’s fine display against South Africa adds to his excellent showing against the West Indies at Providence last month where he delivered a man-of-the-match display in the final T20. The seamer picked up three wickets in as many overs in the clash while conceding a miserly four runs to set up a comprehensive seven-wicket win for India.

With five wickets in his last two appearances, Chahar is well on his way to confirming his ticket to Australia for the T20 World Cup and he will be hoping to build further on his impressive form in the coming months.

Chahar has been around the Indian domestic circuit for some time now after announcing himself as an 18-year-old prodigy for Rajasthan in 2010. Then, the seamer returned with sensational figures of 8-10 on his Ranji Trophy debut to help Rajasthan bowl out Hyderabad for just 21 runs.

With his natural ability to seam the ball both ways, Chahar quickly established himself as a menacing red-ball bowler with his maiden Ranji season for Rajasthan resulting in a total of 30 wickets.

However, a spate of injuries took its toll on Chahar in the years to follow and the result is that he has been able to play just 45 first-class matches in a nine-year career so far. With injuries and fitness issues hampering the bowler from bowling long spells, the Rajasthan man has done well to reinvent himself as a white-ball specialist with some promising displays in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings before earning his maiden India call up.

The seamer has really flourished in Chennai under the leadership of MS Dhoni with 32 wickets to show for in his last two IPL campaigns. With his ability to generate prodigious movement on almost any surface, Chahar has been CSK’s chief weapon in the pace department in a bowling unit dominated by spinners.

According to the CricViz Analyst, Chahar has taken 26 wickets in the powerplay alone in the last three IPL editions which is the highest by any bowler in the competition.

Such has been his potency with the new ball that skipper Dhoni has usually opted to bowl out his four overs on the trot. Question marks have still hovered over Chahar’s ability to bowl with the older ball in the death overs though.

Even in his excellent display against Windies last month, Chahar bowled his three overs on the bounce in the powerplay with Kohli electing not to bowl him out in the death overs.

As such, Chahar’s latest showing against South Africa is of great significance to both him and India. The seamer did bowl three of his overs in the powerplay but also showed he can do a job with the older ball as well by bowling a superb 18th over where he conceded just three runs and picked up the wicket of Bavuma with a knuckle-ball.

“Earlier I used to bowl out with the new ball, and people used to ask me why I don’t bowl at the death,” Chahar told broadcaster Star Sports after India’s win on Wednesday.

“I used to say death is easier to bowl. My brain had become so used to bowling with two fielders outside the circle (inside the powerplay) that five seemed a luxury. If you have variations, you can use them at the death.”

Chahar has the potential to develop into a formidable force in the T20I format if he can keep improving his death-bowling skills and India will hope he continue to do so in the run-up to the T20 World Cup.

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Sri Lanka Cricket give the green light to upcoming tour of Pakistan

Waseem Ahmed 19/09/2019
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Sri Lanka are set to undertake a tour of Pakistan.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have confirmed that the men’s team’s upcoming tour of Pakistan will go ahead as planned despite recent security concerns raised by its government.

Sri Lanka are slated to play three ODIs and as many T20Is in Pakistan beginning on September 27 but the tour was thrown into major doubt a few days ago after a tip-off from the Sri Lankan government for a potential terror threat.

Those concerns now seem to have been allayed by the Pakistan government with SLC secretary Mohan de Silva confirming that the tour will go ahead as scheduled.

“The Pakistan High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, on behalf of the Pakistan Government, has reaffirmed to the Sri Lankan government Pakistan’s desire to provide the Sri Lankan National Team with the same level of security as that provided to a head of state,” the SLC secretary was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

Sri Lanka had earlier named vastly rejigged ODI and T20 squads for the tour led by Lahiru Thirimanne and Dasun Shanaka respectively after as many as 10 senior players pulled out citing security concerns. The group of players to make themselves unavailable for the tour included limited-overs skippers Lasith Malinga and Dimuth Karunaratne.

Meanwhile, Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq had named 20 probables led by skipper Sarfraz Ahmed for the training camp currently underway in Lahore.

The two teams will first face-off in the ODI series beginning on September 27 with all three clashes set to take place in Karachi. They will then move on to Lahore for the T20I-leg of the tour with the final clash set to take place on October 9.

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