There was a hush at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday when Virat Kohli, chasing a ball towards third man, fell awkwardly. People strained their necks to check if everything was okay and cheered loudly when he walked gingerly back to position.
Kohli has not just replaced Sachin Tendulkar as the reason people watch cricket these days, but has also inspired former greats such as Mike Atherton to call him the “most influential figure in the game".
He has certainly been the most influential player in this series against England, which India has won with a Test to spare—his double role as leading batsman and captain beating Ravichandran Ashwin’s 27 wickets so far on turning tracks against circumspect batsmen.
Most successful skipper
Kohli currently has the best win-loss ratio among all Indians who have captained the team in 20 or more Test matches. Though he has captained in the least number of matches (21) in this list, his score of 6.5 (i.e., he has won more than six times as many matches as he has lost) stands out substantially against the next best, Sourav Ganguly (1.61).
There are obviously riders to these figures: Kohli is still new as captain, which means he has not been tested enough and he still has to lead the side in a full series in England, Australia and South Africa.
But he is clearly a natural at leadership, as Atherton points out in The Australian: “Whether directing the field, deciding on DRS (Decision Review System), diving, chasing, stopping the ball, or even shining it, Kohli is the epicentre of the action, a vital magnetic force, drawing the cameras towards him. Tendulkar was a reluctant leader; Kohli is not."
Kohli’s batting statistics as captain are way ahead of the second best—his hero, Tendulkar. This year alone, he has three double centuries—only five batsmen have scored three or more in a calendar year. His batting average as captain (65.50) is far higher than his average prior to captaincy (41.13).
Here’s the last word to end any possible debate: Kohli’s average as captain, currently, is next only to Don Bradman’s (101.51).
Make it a double
Among the top seven highest Test scores by Indian captains, three are by Kohli, all this year alone—an indication of his dominance as a batsman since taking over leadership. His last double century came on Sunday.
Kohli is also progressively scoring more each time he crosses the double-century mark—200, 211 and 235—which promises much for Indian fans and does not augur well for Bangladesh, who arrive here in February.