New Delhi: If there has been one thing consistent throughout India’s Tour of South Africa, then it has surely been Virat Kohli‘s prowess with the bat. The attitude in him, inspiring as a captain, bucking his team up. That aggressiveness on his face each time the wicket falls. And then with the bat, he has stepped up with all the intent, scoring runs, scoring boundaries, taking singles. There is no one particular word to describe this force. Even coach Ravi Shastri advised the reporters at Centurion to find a new word in the latest Oxford dictionary to praise Kohli, after the skipper had notched up his 35th ODI ton. And now former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has lauded the present incumbent as ‘ the flag bearer of Indian cricket’.
“Kohli is a flag bearer of Indian cricket. I have seen a lot of purple patches including mine, Dravid’s and Sachin Tendulkar’s. I genuinely believe that this is not just a purple patch for Kohli, this is genuine greatness,” said Ganguly in an interview with India Today.
On the back of a splendid 2017, where he had finished as the top scorer in the ODIs and India’s second-highest run-getter in Tests, Kohli landed in South Africa, which cricket pundits had adjudged as his first real test as captaincy.
Few ambivalent decisions, followed by a dismal start with the willow and Kohli found himself engulfed in criticism. However, the 29-year-old bounced back with a sublime 153 at Centurion in the second Test and a half-century on a ‘challenging’ Johannesburg track witnessed the same crowd laud the skipper. He ended the Test series as the highest run-getter with a score of 286 runs.
In the ODI series, which many had guessed to be another gruelling battle between the two nations with advantage more towards the hosts, the Men in Blue continued with the momentum they had picked at the Wanderers in the third Test to inflict a historic 5-1 victory, the first by an Indian side in 25 years of history. And much of it was fashioned by Kohli who scored three centuries, and a half-century to amass 558 runs. He became the first cricketer ever to score 500-plus runs in a bilateral ODI series.
Talking about his captaincy and Kohli’s missed chance at an overseas win, Ganguly said, “Kohli has done brilliantly. Overseas Test series wins will come – the only places he has captained India in full series are West Indies and South Africa.
While admitting that he has seen some of the top Indian captains performing well with the bat in the past, including Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni, Kohli’s consistency is on a different level. “The next two series in Australia and England will define him as a captain. I have seen MS Dhoni captain, I have seen Rahul Dravid captain but I have never seen anyone perform this consistently with the bat as captain as Kohli has.”