Coming into the England series, Virat Kohli’s form was under much discussion after he could muster only 134 runs in five Tests in 2014. With average of 13.40 in the series, much of the eyeballs were drawn on whether Kohli, considered one of the greatest batsman at the moment, would come good this time around. At Edgbaston, he went past his total from the entire 2014 season in the first innings itself by scoring 149 runs. In the second essay he scored 51 runs but it wasn’t enough to guide India past the finish line as England won by 31 runs.
For other cricketers, the pressure situation would make them nervous, especially with wickets falling at the other end, but not Kohli. And that sense of self-belief and self-confidence makes him unique. “His self-confidence doesn’t dip, it takes a lot for that to take a beating. That makes him special. The other thing is his fitness. I think he’s the fittest, greatest batsman,” said England batsman Jason Roy in a debate during the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture.
However he was quick to deny that England were afraid of him. “Not scared of him, no. He’s obviously a great player, and rightly so, you’ve given him such kind words. He’s an extremely good athlete, an imposing batsman, an imposing figure on the field. We’ve got to find ways of dismantling him somehow, so we can’t give him too much praise right here,” he added.
The sentiments were echoed by former India batsman and now commentator Sanjay Manjrekar. “Even among Indian greats now, he’s finding a special place. It’s amazing. You talk about dirty Varanasi waters, but Indian waters keep producing these kind of phenomenal batting talents, year after year, generation after generation.”
“Sunil Gavaskar quit in 1987. We had [Sachin] Tendulkar two years later, in 1989. And as he was winding up his long career, here comes Virat Kohli.”
“Where I find him (Kohli) different from other batting greats is his self-belief, his self-confidence,” said Manjrekar. “I remember he averaged 13 (13.4) the last time he was year in England. The very next Test match was in Adelaide, and he walked out like he was king of Adelaide,” he added.
On Sunday Kohli became the first batsman after Sachin Tendulkar in 2011 to go top of the ICC Test Rankings for batsmen. He went from second place in the rankings to number one to leave Steve Smith in his wake.