There is no doubt that Indian cricket is in the Kohli era. His batting is praised by Viv Richards, and he has won a historic Test series in Australia, something no Indian captain has done before. His fitness is aped by newcomers, he is respected by peers and old-timers. He has been named in the Wisden T20 team of the decade. And Virat Kohli is a star even on the social media scene.
The English conditions, and in particular James Anderson, were supposed to be his Achilles heel, but he overcame it not with bossiness but with a calculated caution. Not a shot was played in anger against an ageing Anderson even after he was well settled. Barring the mindboggling swat-flick, with which he drags balls to the midwicket boundary, his shots are steeped in cricketing tradition. He takes risks to cut out risks — he would show the daring and the skill needed to take risks before facing a ball, but would turn into a conservative once the ball is delivered. He stands way outside the crease on bouncy tracks in Australia, shuffles to the off-stump guard in England and South Africa — out-of-the-box thinking that batsmen talk about but seldom have the confidence to try out in the middle.
He is the aggressive face of the opposition on field but at times his reactions are unexpected. Like when Kagiso Rabada needled him before the 50-over World Cup, his response was respectful. When an Indian crowd booed Steve Smith because of the controversy over ball tampering, he urged them to applaud the Australian. He supported Glenn Maxwell for putting his health before the game. He won’t comment on whether the pink ball or four-day Tests are the game’s future but offers his take on demonetisation. Unpredictable he may be, but he is extremely self-aware — a player who knows what he is capable of and is intent on pushing the envelope.
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