The Mancunion

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Why Virat Kohli is already better than Sachin Tendulkar

At just 28, Virat Kohli is writing his name in cricketing folklaw

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In an interview last year, current Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli labelled comparisons to former captain Sachin Tendulkar as “embarrassing.” When Tendulkar retired in 2013, he bowed out as perhaps the greatest batsman of his generation, and was considered irreplaceable.

Nobody, however, had seen the prodigy that is Kohli developing so much that he would become not only as good as the former cricketing legend, but even better – by the age of just 28. Kohli is single-handedly destroying bowlers even more than Tendulkar did.

After India’s win over England in the first one-day international in Pune, former England captain Nasser Hussain said that Kohli was “incredibly special” and labelled him the “Cristiano Ronaldo of cricket.”

Of course, everyone knows that the Portuguese superstar has revolutionised football, scoring doubles and trebles for fun on a regular basis. Kohli is doing the same in cricket, he makes scoring boundaries look simplistic, not an art.

Like Ronaldo, Kohli is also supremely fit, lean and agile. His rapid running in between the wickets is another part of his game which is a cut-above any other batsman in the game, as well as his open attacking stance, and immaculate fielding, which make him the ultimate cricketer.

Kohli’s incredible fitness levels give him the platform that will allow him to continue playing for perhaps another decade, and has the capacity to break all the records in the sport. He has already surpassed Tendulkar’s record of scoring the most centuries in successful run chases, Sunday was Kohli’s 15th century when his team has batted second and won, overtaking Tendulkar’s 14.

Kohli thrives when his team bat second, his average being 63, in comparison to an average of 41 when his team bat first. Overall, he has scored 17 centuries in ODI cricket when India have batted second, equalling the number set by Tendulkar. Amazingly, Tendulkar took 232 matches to achieve such a feat, while Kohli has only taken 96 matches.

Another startling statistic is Kohli’s strike rate, which stands at 90.79, while Tendulkar’s was 90.31 throughout the course of his career. Tendulkar’s career may have spanned longer, but with Kohli on course to carry on, his strike rate will only improve. By the end of his career, he could easily better the strike rate of the West Indian great Sir Viv Richards (93.01).

Comparisons to Tendulkar only seem fair, Kohli simply cannot be compared to any batsman in modern day cricket, as he stands on his own. The Indian captain is the only man to average over 50 in all four forms of cricket (first-class, test match, ODI and Twenty-20).

Following their recent 4-0 test series win over England, India now sit top of the ICC World Rankings for both test matches and ODI’s, and they are the undisputed kings of both formats of the game once again, and the leading light is of course Kohli.

While the ever-green MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, along with vibrant openers KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan complete the most feared batting line-up in the world, Kohli is like the star at the top of the Christmas tree. Kohli recently took over the limited overs captaincy from MS Dhoni, his role as India’s talisman has increased significantly, and he is once again stepping up to the plate.

Kohli’s impressive 122 against England on Sunday took the game away from the tourists, despite England hitting 350, which is becoming almost a par score in ODI cricket. The way the game is developing, Kohli is now batting in an era where the average score is higher, as oppose to Tendulkar. Cricket is a more entertaining game, and Kohli is the chief-entertainer.

The changes were evident in England’s thrilling 3-2 series win over New Zealand in the summer of 2015. New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was especially renowned for his all-out aggressive captaincy style, implementing an attacking batting line-up and field.

Just under a year later in the world Twenty-20 in India, it was clear this style was evident in this form of the game as well. India and the West Indies mirrored England and New Zealand’s attacking brand of cricket, which was on display a year earlier.

Although the West Indies won the tournament, Kohli picked up the player of the tournament award, just as he did two years earlier in Bangladesh. These individual awards outline Kohli’s place at the top of the Twenty-20 batman rankings, as well as being second in the test match and ODI rankings.

Kohli is also a magnificent fielder, and can bowl medium pace occasionally. He is a man who can do everything in all formats of the game.

By the end of his career, Kohli could rival Mahatma Gandhi’s fame in Indian folklore. Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid – step aside – there’s a new legend on the block ready to smash all the records in cricket.