Kohli: The future of Indian batting

Published: March 20, 2012

India has always produced exquisite batsmen from Viswanath to Vengsarkar to Azharuddin to Tendulkar and from this pedigree has emerged another star that shone brighter than the other young guns we have witnessed; Virat Kohli. PHOTO: Reuters

India has always produced exquisite batsmen from Viswanath to VengsarkarAzharuddin to Tendulkar; from this pedigree, another star has emerged that shines brighter than the other young guns around.

Virat Kohli has set himself apart from his contemporaries with such dominant performances that India’s batting future seems to be secured. Actually, in the last few weeks we have had a glimpse of that future twice; once, when Kohli led India to a successful run chase in Australia, chasing 321 from 36 overs. And again yesterday, when India completed their highest, Kohli was at the forefront of the chase with a magnificent 183.

Yesterday’s was one of the best ODI innings ever witnessed. It undermined the efforts of Hafeez and Jamshed, who both scored centuries putting up an opening stand of 224 in the process and kept India’s hope in the tournament alive. To be fair, it was a batting wicket and Pakistani bowlers dished out a listless performance, but the bad balls still have to be put away; gaps have to be found and Kohli did that with surgical precision.

Kohli’s Test credentials still need some proving, though he has already scored a century in Australia. His ODI credentials are as impeccable as they come. The player, who has been ear marked to take the mantle of Rahul Dravid, has racked up 11 centuries in the format at an average of over 50. He is one of the most dependable batsmen in ODIs at the moment, and his Test century against Australia has shown that he has the capacity to succeed in the longer version as well.

Virat should form the nucleus of India’s batting future along with Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina around which the rest of the batting line-up will revolve. Like most sub-continental batsmen, he is strong off his pads and easily maneuvers the ball anywhere between backward square leg and midwicket. His off side game is just as strong but he prefers the leg side.

His flexible style, where he can either take singles or unleash cracking boundaries and his cool and calculating demeanor makes him the ideal person to bat at number three.

This kid from Delhi has some spunk too, as is evident by the century celebration he has, with sprouts of abuses hurled in all directions, but he backs it up with numbers. His emergence in the Indian team has been swift and he was elevated to vice-captaincy in Virender Sehwag’s absence. He may be the future Indian captain and has already captained the U-19 Indian team to a World Cup victory.

Pakistan has a batsman in the mould of Kohli as well.

Umar ‘the chota’ Akmal, is pure class and is as fearless as they come. He has all the shots in the book and can attack or take singles as required. Some maturity is lacking, but that will come with time as more responsibility is given to him.

Coming at number five or six is hardly the place for a stroke maker like Umar Akmal. He should be sent at number three so that he is able to control the game and dictate terms to the opposition as Kohli does.

The additional responsibility of wicket keeping when he doesn’t even keep in domestic fixtures will do more harm to his confidence.  When Younus Khan and Misbah ul Haq call it a day, Akmal will be the one carrying the baton of Pakistan batsmanship. The sooner the Pakistan management gets this, the better.

India has already understood the importance of Kohli for their future – Pakistan would do well to follow suit with Akmal.

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Dr Amyn Malyk

Dr Amyn Malik

A Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of the MPH program at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He tweets @amynmalik

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Iqbal73

    Some maturity is lacking, but that will come with time as more responsibility is given to him.

    Tendulkar’s greatest legacy to Indian cricket, and batting in particular, is his level-headed ethos and single-minded professionalism. Sadly, maturity and sensible stewardship of one’s talent has been a rarity among Pakistani batsmen. Javed Miandad should have retired 3 years before he played his last international, Inzamam could not even keep his waistline in check and turned into an insecure dictator when burdened with captaincy. Having seen what one has seen of Umar Akmal, it’s not very likely that he will turn into a cool customer, although miracles have happened, e.g. Roger Federer who at the age of 30 won a tournament over the weekend that included Nadal, Murray, Djokovic also used to have a reputation of being a hothead in his late teenage years, before he shaped up. Azarenka who crushed Sharapova in the same tournament was also a loose cannon liable to volcanic explosions but it looks like she’s received good sports psychology and coaching, something Umar Akmal is not likely to get.Recommend

  • Doosam

    Kohli and Rohit Sharma are both immensely talented, as Dravid alluded in his retirement speech and at the moment Indian batting future seems secure (regardless of the thrashing in England and Australia where they lost due to seniors continued slump). Another one to watch out for in Test cricket is Pujara but he needs to regain his fitness and form. Raina has technical flaws so will remain good ODI/T20 player unless he corrects his technique.

    Our Umar Akmal is talented but is more or less the same player that he was three years ago, no improvement at all despite being given countless opportunities. Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq are good prospects and have shown temperament and judgment which Umar seems to be lacking. It is pointless to compare Umar Akmal to Kohli or even Rohit Sharma, both are technically and temperamentally more mature than Umar.Recommend

  • narayana murthy

    “This kid from Delhi has some spunk too, as is evident by the century celebration he has, with sprouts of abuses hurled in all directions, but he backs it up with numbers. ”

    Such behaviors are not to be appreciated. This is exactly why the younger lot can never be good ambassadors of the sport.

    Dhoni on the contrary is very level headed and mature. That’s why he is admired by all.

    There’s absolutely no need to even mention Tendulkars and Kumbles. They were exemplary both on and off the field.

    People of Kohli may seem like stars at the moment, but they fade away quickly. Just like Kambli and others.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    @Iqbal73:

    Wonderful comment. Thanks.Recommend

  • Doosam

    Kohli and Rohit Sharma are both immensely talented, as Dravid alluded in his retirement speech and at the moment Indian batting future seems secure (regardless of the thrashing in England and Australia where they lost due to seniors continued slump). Another one to watch out for in Test cricket is Pujara but he needs to regain his fitness and form. Raina has technical flaws so will remain good ODI/T20 player unless he corrects his technique.
    Our Umar Akmal is talented but is more or less the same player that he was three years ago, no improvement at all despite being given countless opportunities. Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq are good prospects and have shown temperament and judgment which Umar seems to be lacking. It is pointless to compare Umar Akmal to Kohli or even Rohit Sharma, both are technically and temperamentally more mature than Umar.Recommend

  • Hashmi

    He will go down and not be seen in the pages of history. Look at him celebrate, the arrogance the pride.. How long can he survive..

    the Pakistani century makers both bowed down to Allah as soon as they reached hundred.

    this is another evidence of the two nation theory..Recommend

  • manish

    @Hashmi:

    even if he goes down in history, this wonderful inning will never be forgotten.

    do you remember the 80s when pakistan was on top of it’s class…will you tell us how many of them were extremely devoted to the cause of religion? well, imran khan, wasim akram, waqar younis, aqeeb javed or mudassar nazzar or jaheer abbas, name any player from that era who was overtly religious and was recorded among the top players, but still pakistan was on top of the world.

    well, to be succint, sports and religion seldom go hand in hand. what matters is how much you sweat at the nets and not on how much time you spend in worshipping HIM.Recommend

  • arjun

    @Iqbal73:
    serious question…what does that tell you about Pakistan and its society???? Even your cricketers cannot stop talking islam…Barring Wasim Akram, Pakistan is yet to have such a personality….Recommend

  • http://India IndianMuslim

    this is another evidence of the two nation theory..

    but they foul mouth on twitter. Wahab says Hello!Recommend

  • Kumail

    Missed Yuvraj??Recommend

  • kdm

    With an outstanding performance against Pakistan and Srilanka, is he still the future of Indian batting? I think he has already been the backbone of india’s current batting lineup. Recommend

  • Iqbal73

    @arjun, overt religious displays are in some ways an interesting spillover of class politics (just as hijab is often symbolic of gender/identity debates). Many of the top players in India and Pakistan at one time used to come from the urban upper classes (Pataudi, Burki, etc.) and were secure enough to laugh away expressions of religious affiliation by those from humble backgrounds. Then, in Pakistan some of these people discovered the role of religion to motivate those who came from rural backgrounds, and when the latter started coming into roles of power they used religion as a marker for their own identity and to stake out a claim for their own class cohorts.

    The profuse sajda upon reaching century is an outgrowth of this subterranean political struggle. In politics too, the patrician classes (Nehru, Bhutto, etc.) were displaced by more streetwise politicos who sometimes tried to ride the tiger of religious sentiments but they often did not know what they were unleashing. It is also true that for all their supposed cosmopolitanism and enlightened outlook, the drawing room politicians were also beholden to their entrenched privilege and wealthy patrons. They also wielded secular concepts like republicanism and democracy in an instrumental way to keep the unwashed masses in check, thereby tarnishing the reputation of these “glittering generalities” in the mind of ordinary people. Some of what’s happening in France right now with the upcoming election is also an indicator of this type of struggle between the “state nobility” and supporters of the far right National Front party.Recommend

  • Ammar

    @ arjun

    Iqbal’s comments are very true but that does not tell any thing about Pakistani society.Please keep your frustration to yourself. This is strictly a professional discussion on sports and got nothing to comfort your feelings on Pakistani society. Pakistan is much better than that but depends what lens you see through.Recommend

  • Critical

    @arjun:
    Good point Arjun..

    I too notice that Pakistani players do assert their religion too much except for a few like Younis Khan,Wasim Akram..I dont criticize them for being religious…but the constant use of Inshallah in front of every sentence they utter looks more forced than the one which comes from the heart

    During the press conference after T20 WC loss against India,Shoaib Malik asked forgiveness from the entire Muslim community for losing…Are they likening cricket to jihad where everyone supports muslims irrespective of their country origin??
    Bangladeshis are muslims too,I never seen them using overly religious words while talking…and if Pakistanis needed to be reminded again..india has more muslims than pakistan and we even had a muslim as a captain….Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    Shame, Dr Malik for writing so many blogs on praising Indian cricketers again and again, your lack of patriotism at times is mildly annoying, you have written blogs glorifying Yousuf Pathan, Sachin Tendulkar, your most unbearable piece was when you glorified the ridiculous greed infested. Indian premier league, which still continues to intentionally subject Pakistani players towards discrimination. If anything you should write a piece on un needed discrimination faced by Pakistani cricketers at the hands of Anti Pakistan Lobby in the BCCI and what it is doing to Pakistani cricket, as well as preventing the great Cricketing rivalry to take off and get its worthy statusRecommend

  • Cynical

    @Iqbal73

    Very astute observation.Wish some of the young talents would have read this post. Recommend

  • Optimist

    @ Critical

    Check your facts.
    .
    I am really surprised that people can’t do simple maths! They have heard this dialogue in Bollywood film that India has more Muslims than Pakistan (Sunny Deol said that probably).
    .
    India has less than 150 Million Muslims and Pakistan has more than 180 Million.
    .
    You had one Muslim Captain, because of blessing of Pakistan we had so many Muslims. You may have one or two Muslims in army, We have 700,000. Thank God for Pakistan!!Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    @Ammar:

    When a Pakistani Captain apologizes to “all the Muslims, all over the World”, for losing to India in a World Cup final, you can think on the lines of what Arjun is thinking. Recommend

  • from India

    @ Optimist – India has 160 mln plus Muslims but not much less than Pakistan if not more. FYI, we had two Muslim captains – Nawab Pataudi and that match fixer Azhar. Number of Muslims in Indian army is around 30,000, less but not negligible considering the fact that majority are under the spell of Imam and maulvis 30k is a good number to cherish :-)Recommend

  • Critical

    @Optimist:
    We dont spout words based on movie dialogues…According to World Demographic Data,India constitutes 10.9% of total muslim population and Pakistan 11.0% ….Not a great difference…also if we could calculate the 27million illegal bangaldeshis…We would be more than you….
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ListofcountriesbyMuslim_population
    I dont know Pakistan blessed us to have one muslim captain,when Azhar hails from Hyderabad….In India,you have to work your way to the top rather than show your religion card….We have had 2 captains and many muslim players…
    But you had just 2 players of Hindu origin and one of your christian player was mysteriously dropped and then was selected back after he converted to Islam…..

    I think,you guys still think of the theory- One Pashtun soldier can kill 10 Indian soldiers when 94,000 of your army surrendered meekly and were made to walk all the way from Bangladesh to yout countryRecommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    @Optimist:

    The negative things are also true.

    In India not a single Muslim kills another Muslim for ideological reasons, but this happens in the dozens in Pakistan.

    In India, you can call yourself a Muslim without any fear, while calling yourself a Muslim will get you jail or death in Pakistan for a Ahmadi.

    In India, Shia Muslim groups can live in peace, while they get blown up or shot at every other day in Pakistan.

    So, my friend, still think Pakistan is better?Recommend

  • Dilliwala

    @Anoop
    I don’t usually resort to personal insults. But you sir are a nerd wannabe sprouting non-sense thinking it’s intellectual analysis. (this is coming from an Indian). You should check your facts before sprouting them as words of Allah. I There is plenty of Shia-Sunni violence which happens and has happened in the past in India. India (at least major parts of north India) are exactly the same as Pakistan in many respects. At least so far. Muslims do live in fear and as do Hindus in muslim localities. The religious divide is real (as anywhere in the world) and will not be bridged for reasons far beyond your understanding.Recommend

  • Mark

    Last time I visited these pages, I was told that Umar Akmal was the Next Tendulkar in the making.

    Now, he has been upgraded to Next Kohli in the making ?Recommend

  • Rizvi

    Kohli is talented, no doubt about it. But what has he done in real cricket? 15 test innings and a batting average of 32 hardly deserves so much attention. Sorry, but going by his test numbers, he may just be another Yuvraj,Raina or Dhoni in the making. Albeit, he bats up the order and thus scores more runs with the white ball on subcontinent tracks. A test average of 32 in tests is hard to look past. One day cricket not real cricket anyway. He is yet to pass the ‘test’ of cricket to deserve the praises. Recommend

  • hassan

    I think Kohli is playing for personal records, already scored 11 hundreds in 80 ODIs. I am sure he is chasing personal milestones and not playing for his team. He scored a test century in Australia and his team lost. A sure sign that he is chasing records.

    Moreover, see his celebrations, they are disgraceful. And he always slogs. Useless, over-rated player !Recommend