Here’s a Look at Polly Umrigar Awardee Virat Kohli’s Mega 2016
Statistician Arun Gopalakrishnan breaks down Virat Kohli’s 2016 in numbers.
Sir Vivan Richards in 1976, Sachin Tendulkar in 1998, Rahul Dravid in 1999. Yes. That’s the kind of year – if not better – 2016 has been for Virat Kohli. He scored a mountain of runs in the last 12 months and took a giant leap towards becoming one of the greats of the game.
The quantum of runs by itself is astonishing – and if you had the opportunity to watch him bat and score runs, you sure would have been left in awe, for he scored the bulk of the runs playing orthodox cricket and copybook strokes.
The cover drives, the straight drives, the drives through mid-on and the whip off the pads were all a sight to see.
In the past, numerous players have dominated one format over a period of time but seldom have we seen what Virat Kohli has done in 2016. Name the format and Virat has excelled.
Name the opponent, and chances are he would have demolished that bowling attack at some point in the last twelve months. 2595 international runs in a calendar year at an average of 86.50 – stunning!
In the last couple of years, Virat was seen as the best batsman in the Indian team. He had single-handedly won India matches in the past too – but those were mainly in the limited overs formats, and those match-winning performances were interspersed with periods which weren’t that productive.
In these last twelve months though, the 28-year old has taken a gigantic step – from being India’s best batsman, to become the best batsman in the world. To phrase it better, Virat Kohli could be the face of international cricket now.
What is extremely satisfying about Virat’s run in 2016 is that while he has consistently scored runs across the various formats, the bulk of his success has been in the most testing and most demanding format of all – Test cricket.
The Delhi lad has scored 1215 runs in 12 Test matches in this year at an average of 75.93.
His performance in the white flannels includes three double centuries in these last twelve months – a feat no other Indian had achieved and previously accomplished by only four other batsmen in the world – Michael Clarke (4), Sir Don Bradman, Ricky Ponting and Brendon McCullum (3 each).
If Test cricket is extremely demanding, then T20 is the most fickle. Test cricket allows a batsman to settle down and work his way towards a big score, but in Twenty20 cricket, a player has to tee off from the word go.
Even in this unpredictable hit-or-miss format, Virat has been extremely consistent – to the extent his consistency was unprecedented. Figure this; Virat played 29 T20 innings in the last twelve months, scored 50 or more in 18 of them, and was dismissed for single-digit scores only thrice.
Given how much Test cricket India have played recently, one tends to forget how prolific Virat Kohli was in the 50-over format. In 10 ODI innings in 2016, Virat scored 739 runs – which included 3 centuries and 4 half-centuries.
As the sun sets on 2016, Virat – still 28-years old – is already among the pantheons of the greats to have played the one-day game.
What has brought about this machine-like consistency in Virat Kohli’s batting? The Indian Test captain revealed some time ago that while standing in front of a mirror one day he realised that he was born to do a certain job, but wasn’t doing justice to the gift he was bestowed with.
He said he learnt that the only guaranteed way to remain successful was to train hard and not to sit back and rest on the laurels. Since the day that realisation dawned on him, Virat Kohli trains hard – on his fitness in the gym and on his skills in the field, and as a result is now supremely fit and fresh in the mind all the time.
One learnt from the commentators during the India-England Test series that Virat was once spotted in the gym hours after he had scored a big international hundred.
When asked why he was not working on his recovery after a marathon innings but instead training, Virat was said to have replied he was working on enhancing his fitness so he could convert the hundreds into double hundreds and possible triple hundreds in the future. That’s the attitude champions are made of.
2016 has been a dream year for Virat Kohli. Here’s wishing the Indian Test captain can scale new highs in the new year.
(This article has been republished from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of Virat Kohli being given the Polly Umrigar Award by the BCCI for the third time. This story was originally published on 30 December, 2016 to look back on Virat’s incredible year.)
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