Virat Kohli Turns 30: Trends Suggest More Runs Await
So the calendar turns another year for Virat Kohli. A 12-month phase laced with extraordinary milestones ends to mark a personal milestone for the Indian captain – the flag-bearer of modern day batsmanship.
And WHAT a year this has been for the newly 30-year-old.
Over 3,000 runs scored, 13 hundreds hit, an average of nearly 70 runs every international innings.
Kohli’s career numbers and records need no reiteration, but since this is a day to celebrate the brutish boy from Delhi who became King of 2010s Batting, let’s brush through the stand-outs:
His place in the pantheon of all-time greats, to many, is already secured.
We could have a separate piece just on the records that belong to this man – and we do.
But the question we’re asking here is just what more could Kohli achieve as he embarks upon the fourth decade of his life, and the second of his international career?
The thirties, typically, have been an expansion ground for modern-day batting greats.
35 percent of Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 tons came after he cut his 30th birthday cake – for Matthew Hayden, the number was 90 percent.
More than half of Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid and Brian Lara’s Test hundreds (114 in total between them) were hit as ‘senior cricketers’ – including Lara’s gargantuan 400*.
Among more recently-retired stalwarts, Kumar Sangakkara scored 19 of his 25 ODI hundreds post the dawn of his thirties; AB de Villiers averaged over 63 post his (compared to 49 before).
Juxtapose that with Kohli’s now-fabled drive and intensity, and it makes for a scary prospect for bowlers across the globe.
“I don’t feel like I’m entitled for anything here,” said Kohli after becoming the fastest to reach 10,000 ODI runs during yet-another-ODI-100 against West Indies last month.
Sure, for all the legends mentioned above, there are enough cases to point a decline in batting ability with age: Think Ricky Ponting towards the latter stage of his career, or Alastair Cook, or Virender Sehwag once the hand-eye coordination wasn’t the same, or, dare I say, MS Dhoni.
Again, it’s where the mindset – and the ridiculous level of fitness – points to a possibly still-upward trajectory for the Indian skipper.
To fairly ascertain just how much longer Kohli will continue playing involves many a variable, which is difficult to account for.
A safe-ish estimate, based on hunger, fitness and what he himself has to say, would suggest that the 2023 World Cup in India can be considered a realistic minimum guarantee of when Kohli could stay till.
“To understand you’ve come so far in your career playing for 10 years is something quite special to me because I love the sport so much, and you want to play it more and more, and that for me is the most important thing, so I’m just happy that I’m able to play for this long and hopefully many more years to come,” he told BCCI.tv after his 10,000-run accomplishment at Visakhapatnam.
That gives us, if we’re correct, at least five more years of witnessing the batting behemoth that is Virat Kohli. Given the variables attached, we’re not digging into the permutations that could lead us to where his already extraordinary numbers finish (not for now, at least).
In any case, Kohli will be the first to admit that it isn’t the numbers – not the hundreds, not the thousand-plus runs every year, not the Bradman-esque averages – that come to define greatness. That will lie in results, in victories – in an ability to take his once-in-a-generation self to further heights. In going from greatest-of-his-time, to GOAT.
So as he notches up three decades of life, let’s just picture the unbridled and unblemished joys that could await the cricket-viewing world, especially in India, if Kohli decides to light up his 30s the way he did his late-20s.
What a wonderful world that could be. (Bowlers: Our apologies)
(Author’s Note: I’ve been too tempted through the research to actually draw up the potential future figures, so here goes – I predict 62 ODI hundreds and 40 Test hundreds, to end with 102 centuries. That’s another 40 international tons, in a period of five-six years. Sounds a little outrageous, but guess how many tons the Indian captain has racked up in the five-year spell from 2014 to 2018? Yes, 40.)