T20 World Cup: King Kohli
It might seem like a strange title, especially when you consider that members of the infamous CricIndex WhatsApp group removed Virat Kohli from any discussions about the best batsman in the world, but if you want a T20 World Cup banker, India’s Kohli is king.
In tribute to the upcoming “slap and tickle” cricket, the only fair hyperbolic assessment of historical world cup data is: Virat Kohli is as good as Donald Bradman.
Blasphemous. How dare you?! Scream millions of Australians, and billions of test cricket fans (that’s a fair estimate, no?).
Others may have scored more runs in the tournament’s history, such as Sri Lankan legend Jayawardene (the only batsman to pass a thousand runs – 1,016); you have the big blast merchants like Afridi (149.5 strike rate), Pietersen (148.33), and Gayle (141.82); but if you want a mixture of both, if you want a volume of runs with a strike rate above 125, and an average (with those over 300 runs) significantly better than your peers, Kohli is king.
Those who have followed cricket for any length of time will scream “small sample size” at me; those who have only watched T20 World Cups will bow down at King Kohli’s knees. Remember when Bradman averaged 99.94 in test match cricket before attention spans were longer than sample sizes? Well, Kohli averaged 106.33 at the last world cup, with a 129.14 strike rate, off 247 balls. That’s balls faced, for the whole tournament. It is a remarkable achievement, especially when you consider Kohli has never made a T20 hundred.
If you open up the data to include “one club man” Kohli’s career as King of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, then you see a slightly different picture: 168 innings, 5053 runs, with a top score of 99, a strike rate of 129.76, and an average of 36.35. You always get the feeling with Kohli that he’s got no real weaknesses in his technique, has a full range of shots, which can be a mixture of explosive and sublime, yet often frustrates because if he had the mental strength and application of Steve Smith or Joe Root then he’d be unstoppable.
If Kohli posts anywhere near the numbers he managed in the previous tournament then India should win this competition. Dhoni maybe the Indian captain but Kohli is King, the big question is: will he still reign after this competition? My suspicion is no. It’ll be King Finch.