Tag Archives: Virat Kohli

Champions Trophy Final: All hype but no substance in Pakistan’s claim

What every marketing man of television industry wanted at the start of Champion Trophy is finally happening. An India-Pakistan Champions Trophy final is dream come true for them but when it comes to quality of cricket, certainly it isn’t. Everyone is talking about the turnaround that Pakistan made after their first match defeat against India but is it really that significant? Pakistan is a mediocre side and barring their win against England, their game has been anything but convincing.   

Pakistan’s match against South Africa was rain marred and against Sri Lanka, there was a battle of low-quality cricket on display. It seemed that both teams wanted to lose the match but Sri Lanka had more will to lose and hence lost the game.

Their bowlers have certainly made a turnaround since the match against India and Fakhar Zaman looks a good modern day batsman but beyond that nothing much has changed. These change shouldn’t bother India. India is a side which is far ahead of Pakistan on papers and they play the game in a far more professional manner than Pakistan.

There is no comparison of India’s batting and fielding with Pakistan. India’s bowling might lack the nip the Pakistani bowlers can generate in favorable bowling condition but on a batting beauty, Indian bowlers can easily out skill their counterparts with the variations that they possess.  

One more thing that is important in India-Pakistan match is that seldom it is decided by the skills of the game. It’s psychological warfare and the team which keeps its head calm often triumphs. In last decade or so India under Dhoni has become a confident side that knows how to perform without fear of failure on big occasions. Under Kohli, there is no shred of doubt that India will start as a confident side because Kohli knows anything but fear.

On the other hand, Pakistan has been jittery, nervous while facing India in last decade. Can they play carefree under Sarfaraz in a big final against India remains to be seen but I doubt that they will be confident. They would have liked to face any team other than India in a big final.  

The only hope for Pakistan is that conditions on the day remain overcast and an overconfident Indian team fail to negate extra swing that their blowers are capable of generating but if it’s bright and sunny day and the pitch is a batting beauty then India lifting Champions Trophy is a forgone conclusion. We should be discussing margin of India’s win not who is going to win.

Well Done Team India , Well done fast bowlers

 
Jadeja and Ashwin with ball and Pujara with bat were usual suspects who took India to yet another series win but there were other heroes too . One of them was KL Rahul, his contribution was immense. He got valuable runs for India and hit 6 half-centuries in a low scoring series against Australia. He is the one to watch out for in the future.
 
Another one was Saha, although his ability to advice on DRS was as bad as Manjrekar’s commentary but he made important contribution with bat that made the difference between a win and a draw or may be a loss.
 
But when you compare how team India started under Dhoni and how team India is performing now, there is nothing much changed in terms of results. India, at that time, dominated at home under Dhoni, India is doing same at home under Kohli but what really changed is performances of fast bowlers. In conditions not suited for fast bowlers, Indian fast bowlers, unexpectedly, not only did well but also outperformed opposition bowlers like Anderson, Broad, Starc, Hazlewood, Boult etc. Sometimes it was Md. Shami, sometimes it was Bhuveshwar Kumar, sometimes it was Ishant Sharma but the one who stole the show in last one year was Umesh yadav. It was heartening to see him bowl with venom and accuracy. He was the same bowler who used to bowl on leg-side when Dhoni used to set an off-side field and vice-e-versa when Dhoni used to set leg side field. I believe, Anil Kumble, a bowler, as a coach has changed the things around and also because Virat Kohli puts more trust in fast bowlers that gives them much needed confidence and freedom. Whatever be the reason it is heartening to see them perform well.
 
And nothing on Jadeja, i am just awestruck.
 
I have my apprehension on how this team will perform in South Africa, England and Australia but performances of fast bowlers, the passion of the team and the way Virat Kohli motivates the team to never give up (No not the verbal aggression that doesn’t win you matches, performances do) has definitely raised some hope.
 
Well Done Indian Cricket Team,  give us a overseas an series victory now. 

Record Galore at the end home season for Team India

When India was about to start its home season under new captain Virat Kohli, there were few apprehensions about how Virat Kohli and the young cricketers, brought up in T20 world, would fare in grueling  home season. Team India had fire power but inexperience and lack of ability was there to thwart their ascendency. At the end of the home season, Team India under Virat Kohli not only proved their critics wrong but also smashed many record en-route to their success.

Here is the list of the record  smashed by Indian players.

Ravichandran Ashwin –

(i)  Ashwin took 82 wickets in 13 test in the season and broke record held by Dale Steyn (78 ) since 2007-08.

(ii) Ashwin also became quickest to take 250 wickets ( 45 Test) breaking record of  Richard Hadlee ( 48 Test )

(iii) Ashwin  also became quickest to get 25 five-wickets haul ( in 47 Test) breaking record of Richard Hadlee ( 62 Test). He also became fastest to take 200 wickets at home ( in 30 test ). Ashwin’s current bowling strike rate of 52 is best by a spinner in last 100 years.

Ravindra Jadeja – 

(i) Jadeja became only third player in Test Cricket history to score more than 500 runs and take more than 50 wickets in a season other two being Kapil Dev in 1979-80 and Mitchell  Johnson in 2008-09. Jadeja sits on top of the chart with 556 runs and 71 wickets.

(ii) Jadeja became the highest left arm wicket-taker after 30 Tests, with 142 wickets. He is followed by Mitchell Johnson, who had 137 wickets after 30 Tests.

Cheteshwar Pujara –

(i) Pujara scored 1316 runs and set record of highest runs scored by an Indian in a season in Test matches breaking 8 year old record of Gautam Gambhir (1269). He, now, also holds record of most run in a season in test matches at home venue.

Virat Kohli – 

Kohli became first batsman to score 4 double century in four consecutive series. He went past Don Bradman and Dravid. Both of them did it in three consecutive series.

 

And here comes the most interesting one –

Since Steve Smith’s infamous brain-fade incident, Australia have taken more than 10 DRS and was successful in only one but yes as they said Aussies don’t cheat you know.

Tough days ahead for Virat Kohli

All champion sides have one thing in common: they have an aura that creates fear in opponents and makes opponents lose the game in their mind even before the real game has begun. West Indies in late 70s & 80s and Australia on either side of millennium were such champion teams.

Team India enjoy such an aura at their home turf.Teams lose their sleep just at the thought of playing a test series in India. They have an enviable record at home. Since the start of new millennium, India has lost just three test series out of twenty nine test series played at home turf.

Current series, against Australia, is India’s 30th home test series since the start of new millennium and Australia, against all odds, beat India in India after 4502 days in the first test of the current series. Chink in India’s armour has been exposed by Aussies. This was certainly not in the script for VIrat Kohli & Co. It may have dented their confidence but the real character of a champion team is reflected at the face of adversity and if India feels that they are champion side then now is the perfect time to show their character.

Aussies were unexpectedly mute before the start of the series and now it seems that their silence was indication of the upcoming storm. That storm has hit India hard and handed India their second biggest loss at home turf. Aussies were buoyant after this win. If it was any other team then they would have got carried away with this surprise win and would have lost the focus but Aussie belong to altogether different breed. When they smell the blood, they don’t wait for their prey to commit mistakes, they pounce and go for kill. They would go all out in Bengaluru to take invincible lead of 2-0. 

VIrat Kohli has his task cut out because not only the next test or the series is on the line but also India’s aura of champion at home turf is in danger. Tough days are ahead for Virat Kohli in this series  but it should not bother either Virat Kohli or Indian cricket team fans because it is these difficult moments that separate the men from the boys. Time to see who all are the men in this Indian team. Kohli, Ashwin, Pujara, Nair ?

Stats: James Anderson – A case of sour grapes

When the going gets tough, the tough get going and when the going gets tough, the losers get chirping. After England’s Test series loss against India, it was not surprising to see James Anderson taking a dig at Virat Kohli’s failure in India’s tour of England in 2014.  No one can deny that Virat Kohli failed in that tour and the fifth and sixth stump line of English bowlers bothered him but bringing that now when the Indian captain has decimated the English bowlers is a classic example of sour grapes.

Every cricket expert knows that Virat Kohli has changed his stance to negate the fifth and sixth stump line that consistently bothered him. One thing about Kohli that makes him great is that he admits his flaws and improves his technique to remove it from his game, unlike some bowlers who hide their inefficiencies by bringing up old stats of batsmen.

Let us now focus on the spearhead of the English bowling attack, James Anderson, who called out the ‘technical flaw’ of Virat Kohli and analyse what has he done to remove his own flaws.

Anderson is the highest wicket taker in Test cricket for England, but a quick look at his performance in this series, and he seemed nothing more than another ordinary bowler. He took just 4 wickets in 3 test matches whereas India’s Mohammed Shami picked up 10 wickets in the same conditions in the same number of matches.

It seems Anderson didn’t do much to iron out his own flaws of bowling in subcontinent pitches but as good hosts, we shall give him the benefit of doubt since he is 34 years of age and is marred by injuries, and hence must not have got time to iron out his flaws for this series.

He has had a long career spanning 13 years and has had a successful Test career, becoming one of the modern bowling greats. The Englishman has picked up 467 wickets in 122 matches at an average of 28.50, but a great bowler performs well irrespective of conditions. So let us see how Anderson fares in different conditions.

In Country Matches Wickets  Average
New Zealnd 5 18 36.27
Australia 13 43 38.44
South Africa  8 25 39.92
India 10 26 33.46
Sri Lanka 4 11 40.72

Anderson’s performance in seamer friendly pitches: Average

In New Zealand, where conditions are favourable for swing bowlers like Anderson, he has taken 18 wickets in 5 Test matches at an average of 36.27. Across the Tasman Sea in Australia, the Lancashire bowler has taken 43 wickets in 13 Test matches at an average of 38.44. In South Africa, again, conditions which suit bowlers like him, he has taken 25 wickets in 8 Test matches at an average of 39.92.

Going by these stats, it isn’t very impressive for England’s leading wicket taker in the backyard of fast bowlers, at best it can be considered as average performances.

In not so great conditions for fast bowlers, like in India, he has picked up 26 wickets in 10 Test matches at an average of 33.46, while in Sri Lanka, his record is 11 wickets in 4 matches at an average of 40.72. Again, nothing impressive here too.

Brilliant in home conditions

What is impressive is his performance at home, in England, where he has 296 wickets in 69 matches at a staggering average of 25.63.

He has 21 5-wicket hauls, out of which 17 have come in England and out of his three 10-wicket hauls, none have come outside England. The stats show that Anderson is an incredibly gifted bowler, capable of picking wickets at home, but away from the comforts of home conditions, the fast bowler’s record is average, at best.

The aim of dissecting the performance of James Anderson is not to put him down. He is one of the best bowlers of his generation and it takes great skill to swing the ball both ways or to make the ball reverse, which Anderson does consistently.

But the point here is to show that everyone needs to improve somewhere. Some players have to a great way to go, while others have smaller flaws. So, there is no point referring to a particular past statistic to bring Virat Kohli down.

It is worth noting that Virat Kohli has improved leaps and bounds since that 2014 tour and has become one of the best batsmen in the world. Barring performances in England in Test matches, the Indian captain has performed admirably everywhere and the best bowlers of his generation have found it difficult to outfox him.

Whether Kohli succeeds in England or not will be known only when India travels to England, but what we have learnt recently is that James Anderson has proved that he is a sore loser after his team were outplayed and out-thought comprehensively in this series.

Mr. Anderson, let the ball do the talking.

This post has also been published here at sportskeeda.

Virat Kohli : From arrogant prick to invincible man 

Early in Virat Kohli’s career, the term which was associated with him was arrogant and obnoxious (being from Delhi helped him to get that infamous tag). His arrogance was more talked about than his performance. Many of us who have grown up watching how gracefully Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid carried themselves on and off the field thought who is this arrogant prick?

Virat Kohli’s attitude was too much to handle for a generation who were taught that humbleness is greatest trait. Yes, we have seen a bit of arrogance in Ganguly but even he was no match for Kohli.

To everyone’s surprise that obnoxious behaviour which led to the downfall of many upcoming players in different sports (remember Mario Balotelli of Italy) was propelling Virat Kohli. He started to perform big with the bat with it his arrogance grew even more. He became an Australian in the Indian colours. Big on performance, big on attitude. I, me, myself kind of player. He performed well and then pissed off everyone: opponent, team-mates, and spectators. I became fan of this Kohli and I hated myself for it. How can I who loved graciousness of Sachin and Dravid can be fan of this prick.May be his performance started to get him the respect that he deserved.

There was always one thought at the back of my mind that all this graciousness is seen as timidity in this big bad world when you don’t win. Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India started to win big finals but the humbleness remained and some part of me wanted someone from Indian Team to show off a little bit that we have arrived and have no fear and that’s where Kohli fit the bill. He was still the prick. He sledged Aussies “the original sledge masters” and terrified them with it. I became fan but still didn’t love him. He was still an Aussie in the Indian colours.

Then the captaincy came to him and surprisingly things changed drastically. He reigned in his aggression and transformed it to controlled aggression. His aggression was his driving force and it led to many mistakes too but now his controlled aggression made him invincible.

Combination of that controlled aggression and performance is what i always wanted to see in Indian players because that’s what every champion player is made of. Performance was always there in many players but not the attitude that Kohli has and when, in few instances, some of the players showed aggression, the performance was not there and they looked like joker at the end of it( remember Sreesanth )

Kohli’s controlled aggression is rubbing off on other Indian players too. Kohli came and removed any shred of timidity that was haunting Indian team and started to assert. He was no more someone who was aggressive to get some attention but he does it to get performances out of himself and terrify opposition.

If Sachin Tendulkar represented aspiring India which fought for a place in this World. Kohli is symbol of a new India that is confident about itself and believes that top position is their rightful place. I hope Kohli continues like that for years to come and take Indian Cricket to the height that Aussies achieved in 90s and early 2000s or what West Indies achieved in 70s and 80s.

Virat Kohli: Hitting sixes in limited overs, ducking bouncers in Tests

Virat Kohli has been phenomenal for India in the limited overs cricket. He is a match winner and his exploits while chasing targets in limited overs cricket is exceptional. Recently, many experts have started to use the term ‘Fab Four’ for the group of four fantastic batsmen – Steven Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root and Virat Kohli.They are also sometimes loosely termed as a modern great. The question here is: Is he really that good that he can be termed as modern great or be included in the ‘Fab Four’?

Kohli’s record in the limited overs cricket doesn’t leave us with any doubt about his greatness in the shorter format of the game, but what about his records in the test cricket ?

Test statistics

Virat Kohli averages 43.76 in 47 Test matches, which is good but not great. Kohli has cemented his place at No. 4 after the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, and in 27 Tests post the retirement of Tendulkar, Kohli averages 45.45. That is again good, but not great.Another defining moment in Virat Kohli’s career is when he got test captaincy after MS Dhoni decided to quit test cricket. Since becoming captain, he has played 15 Tests and averages 42.26 with 3 centuries and 2 half-centuries, which is again nothing home to write about.

Now let us compare Virat Kohli with his contemporaries.

In all test matches

Name                           No. of Tests      Runs    Average  100s  50s            Innings per 50 plus score
Virat Kohli                    47                       3326        43. 76      12      12                               3.33
Steven Smith               44                      4099        58.55        15      17                               2.53
Kane Williamson        53                       4493        51.05         14     23                               2.62
Joe Root                         46                      4005         54.86        10     22                              2.625

Record at home of opponents

Name                          No. of Test          Runs      Average   100s  50s        Innings per 50 plus score
Virat Kohli                    28                       2186         44.61         9        5                                3.57
Steve Smith                 22                       2075         57.63         7        9                                2.56
Kane Williamson       31                        2564         47.48         9       12                               2.76
Joe Root                        15                        1117           46.54         2        7                                3.11

Record as Captain

Name                          No. of Test          Runs      Average    100s    50s
Virat Kohli                   16                        1228          49.12           5         2
Steve Smith                14                        1559           74.23           7         6
Kane Williamson        5                         456            76.00          1          4
Joe Root                      **                          **              **               **      **

** Joe Root has not captained England in any Test Match.

From the stats above, it’s clear that Virat Kohli is lagging behind in Test cricket. When his overall record is compared with other three of ‘Fab Four’, he lags far behind in terms of average, runs or in the number of innings taken to score a 50 plus score.Same is the case when his records at away Test matches are scrutinized; apart from the famous Australian tour in 2014-15, he has not much to show.

The Indian greats vs Kohli.

The line of greatness hovers at around the batting average of 50 or above in Test cricket. On the eve of India’s 500th Test, many experts and ex-players picked India’s all-time Test XI. Everyone picked Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid in their India’s all time XI.

Interestingly, all four averaged around or above 50 in the Test cricket. However, many did not pick VVS Laxman and Ganguly. Both of them, interestingly, averaged around or below 45 in Test cricket.

Virat Kohli, at present, averages 43.76 in Test cricket, which is far below the line of greatness, i.e., batting average of 50 or above.

Modern day great?

The 27-year-old’s Test record does not justify the tag of ‘Modern Day Great’. With the brilliance that Virat Kohli has shown in the limited overs cricket, his performances in Test cricket has left a lot to be desired.However, a player cannot be solely judged on stats. His record at away Test matches as well as his overall records, does not reflect the ability and the kind of talent that Virat Kohli possesses.

He certainly has the talent to be a ‘modern great’, because a player cannot have an average of 50 plus in ODI and a genius in limited overs cricket without having the ability to become a Test great.However, he certainly needs to pull up his performances in the Test cricket and it is more a question of when and not if he will do it.

Test Cricket is the ultimate battlefield, the ultimate Test, where greats of the game are born.If Virat Kohli wishes to be in the league of the greats of the game, he has to turn it around in Test cricket. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be doing justice to himself or his prodigious talent.

This article has also been published here at sportskeeda.