Why the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England is crunch time for Virat Kohli the player… and Kohli the India captain.
We all know the Virat Kohli story. The freakishly talented Indian batsman who has combined his flair with unprecedented levels of fitness, unrivalled determination and a hunger for runs and wins present in few batsmen before him. Most of all, it’s the runs that makes Virat Kohli…Virat Kohli.
Virat Kohli in stats
At just 30 and with at least five more years of international cricket in him he’s already second on the list of most ODI centuries with 41, just eight off the great Sachin Tendulkar. And a huge 11 ahead of the next best- Ricky Ponting. His ODI average of 59 is a full 15 runs better than Tendulkar’s and you’d think that he’ll come pretty close to the unthinkable – bettering the Little Master’s tally of 18,426 runs.
With his competitive spirit, leadership qualities and the respect he’s gained from other players for his batting records and ultra-professional approach to everything he does, it was only a matter of time before he added the Royal Challengers Bangalore captaincy to his CV, followed by the India captaincy in all three formats.
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Virat Kohli’s list of disappointments
But whisper it quietly: this World Cup is hugely important to Kohli, both as a batsman and as a captain. Here’s why.
- Kohli has won the World Cup before but wasn’t one of the key men. Yuvraj Singh ended up as player of the tournament, MS Dhoni was man-of-the-match in the final and it was Tendulkar that they were carrying on their shoulders at the end.
- Kohli made more of a contribution when India won the 2013 Champions Trophy but MS Dhoni was the skipper, Ravi Jadeja was man-of-the-match in the final and it was Shikhar Dhawan who was the tournament’s top scorer.
- With Kohli now as captain, they made the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy but were thrashed by rivals Pakistan in the final.
- Kohli wasn’t part of the side who won the first-ever T20 World Cup but was part of the side who lost the final to Sri Lanka in 2014 and was the skipper when they were knocked out by the West Indies in the semis in 2016.
- Kohli has never won an IPL with Bangalore and the side’s record since being appointed captain is poor, with just the one final to show for their efforts.
2019 World Cup a big deal for Virat Kohli
So the 2019 Cricket World Cup is a bigger deal for Kohli than it may at first seem. India haven’t won an ICC tournament under his captaincy and some feel that it’s more of a case that he’s the obvious man for the job as India skipper – especially in the absence of another outstanding candidate – than a case of him being genial leader, man manager or possessor of a brilliant cricketing brain.
In fact, some feel like his captaincy is a little bit limited to leading by example with the bat, insisting on high levels of intensity in the field and plenty of fielding practice off the field. Others feel those death stares when there’s a mis-field or a dropped catch do more harm than good.
Of course, Virat Kohli the batsman and Virat Kohli the captain are two very different things. The smart money is on him scoring at least a couple of centuries, probably three or four fifties and coming extremely close to being the tournament’s top scorer. He is after all the favourite with all bookmakers and a best price of 8.0 with Betway. He scored plenty of runs in the ODI series against England last year and three fifties in five matches at the last Champions Trophy to prove that he can score runs in English conditions.
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Kohli’s big World Cup decisions
But it’s more ‘with the armband’ that he needs to prove a thing or two. Here are a few of the issues he needs to resolve:
- Should he retain faith in Kuldeep Yadav as his chief spinner after a miserable IPL?
- How many spinners should he play? And which ones? Yadav and Jadeja to give more balance? Or Yuzvendra Chahal and Jadeja? Or his two best spinners- Chahal and Yadav? How about all three? Does he only need one?
- Does he play natural opener KL Rahul in the middle-order?
- Where should MS Dhoni bat?
- Should Dinesh Karthik play as a specialist batsman?
- How often should he promote Hardik Pandya up the order?
- Is Vijay Shankar surplus to requirements as an all-rounder if they’re already playing Pandya, Jadeja and Kedar Jadhav in that role?
So plenty for Virat Kohli to think about both before and during the tournament. India have been good in English conditions in the past and this is an excellent opportunity as 4.0 second-favourites with Unibet to win the biggest prize in the sport. It could be the difference between Kohli being remembered as just the prolific runscorer…or a true Indian legend who delivered the World Cup to a billion plus fans.
India are available at 4.0 to win the World Cup with Unibet.
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