Virat Kohli is clearly the batsman in the world

Date: December 15, 2016 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

Indian skipper Virat Kohli is currently monstering England and in the process stamping himself as the best batsman in the world.

In the first four Tests of a five Test series he has plundered 640 runs at an average of 128.0.

His most recent innings – a career high 235 at Mumbai – has taken his average beyond 50 for the first time in his 52-Test career. It was his third double century this year following 211 against New Zealand and 200 versus West Indies.

He now averages over 50 in all three forms of the international game. It is a unique feat that no other batsman is close to achieving. A comparison with the overall records of Kohli’s leading contemporaries illustrates his all-round current standing in the game.

                                                   Test ave                   ODI ave                   T20 ave

Virat Kohli                                 50.5                            52.9                             57.1

Steve Smith                              57.5                            42.3                             21.6

Joe Root                                     52.9                            45.7                             37.5

A B de Villiers                            50.5                            53.6                             23.6

Hashim Amla                             50.1                            51.3                             31.5

Kane Williamson                       49.4                            46.3                             34.5

David Warner                             48.1                            43.1                             28.1

Having turned 28 years of age last month he is in his prime as a batsman and is performing accordingly.

Since assuming the Test captaincy he has average 65.5 in his 21 matches at the helm.

Kohli first made his name at one-day international level, playing 59 ODIs before he received his Test call-up in June 2011.

He made a relatively modest start at Test level, averaging 39.5 through his first 29 appearances. Since that point, just over two years ago, he has averaged 65.0 and struck nine centuries in his 23 Tests.

Kohli is very much the modern-day Indian player given he is prepared to get in the face of the likes of the Australian team.

Previously, generations of Indian players were almost subservient on the ground when confronted by more aggressive opponents. Kohli is no shrinking violet and is not intimidated by such tactics.

Indeed, his most successful series to date came in Australia in 2014/15 when he reeled off four centuries in as many Tests in scoring 692 runs at 86.5. Kohli’s air of confidence and bravado at times rankled the Australians.

If there is one question mark over him it is the disparity between his home and away records at Test level.

At home, he averages 59.0, whilst away it drops to 44.6.

Interestingly, he averages 62.0 in Australia and 68.0 in South Africa, countries where the pitches are traditionally diametrically opposed to the ones he was raised, and still plays on, in India.

His Achilles heel has been England where his five Tests have realised an average of a mere 13.4. It was immediately following that series in mid-2014 that his career took off at Test level. He has yet to return to England but it is a safe bet that when he does he will do far better second time around.

While Smith is anything but orthodox and in short form cricket, de Villiers can produce shots few can, Kohli has principally scored his runs in all three formats on the back of a pure technique.

With the typical coiled wrists that are possessed by so many Indian batsmen, Kohli scores freely all round the wicket. His legside play, in particular, has a silken quality about it.

Australia will face a Kohli led side when it ventures to India in February.

Quelling the Indian skipper will be at the forefront of Smith’s mind. If history is any indicator, having scored six centuries and averaged 60.8 in 12 Tests against Australia, he will not be an easy man to tame.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 15 December 2016, soliciting 54 comments