Virat Kohli is clearly the best batsman in the world

Glenn Mitchell Columnist

By , Glenn Mitchell is a Roar Expert

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    Indian skipper Virat Kohli is currently monstering England and 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.

    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 current standing in the game.

    Batsman Test average ODI average T20I average
    Virat Kohli 50.5 52.9 57.1
    Steve Smith 57.5 42.3 21.6
    Joe Root 52.9 45.7 37.5
    AB 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, Kohli is in his prime as a batsman and is performing accordingly.

    Since assuming the Test captaincy, he has averaged 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 had a relatively modest start at Test level, averaging 39.5 through his first 29 appearances.

    However, since that point just over two years ago, he has averaged 65 and struck nine centuries in 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 intimidated 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, scoring 692 runs at 86.5.

    Virat Kohli of India

    Kohli’s air of confidence and bravado at times rankled the Australians.

    If there is one question mark over Kohli at Test level, it is the disparity between his record at home and his record away.

    In India, he averages 59. While away, his average drops to 44.6.

    Interestingly, he averages 62 in Australia and 68 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 just 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 Steve Smith is anything but orthodox, and in short form cricket AB de Villiers can produce shots few can, Kohli has principally scored his runs in all three formats with a pure technique.

    With the typical coiled wrists that are a trademark of so many Indian batsmen, Kohli scores freely all around 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.

    Glenn Mitchell
    Glenn Mitchell

    After 21 years as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, since mid-2011 Glenn Mitchell has been freelancing in the electronic and written media. He is an ambassador for mental health in Australia, and tweets from @mitchellglenn.

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