Top chaser in Tendulkar batting class

Virat Kohli playing a shot in India's six-wicket win over Australia in Sunday's World Twenty20 match. His superb unbeaten 82 off 51 balls that mixed classic strokeplay with raw power prompted comparisons with his famous compatriot Sachin Tendulkar.
Virat Kohli playing a shot in India's six-wicket win over Australia in Sunday's World Twenty20 match. His superb unbeaten 82 off 51 balls that mixed classic strokeplay with raw power prompted comparisons with his famous compatriot Sachin Tendulkar. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW DELHI • Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar remains the gold standard of batting in the post-Bradman era, but Virat Kohli's masterclass in Sunday's World Twenty20 shoot-out against Australia has prompted comparisons with his famous compatriot.

Not for the first time in the tournament, it took Kohli's masterly knock to get India across the line in a virtual quarter-final against the reigning 50-overs world champions.

Kohli hit an unbeaten 82 off 51 balls that mixed classic strokeplay with raw power in Mohali, as India chased down Australia's total of 160-6 in a pulsating final group match.

With three overs to go, India were still 39 runs short of their target but they cantered home with five balls to spare as Kohli and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni laid into the Australian attack.

Kohli burnished his reputation as arguably the best chaser in limited-overs cricket with a knock that reminded many of Tendulkar's 143 against Australia in a 1998 one-dayer at Sharjah dubbed "desert storm".

SIMPLY AWESOME

Well... That innings was a different level...Not a lot more to say really...Absolutely shattered. Beaten by 1 cricketing genius. #toogood

GLENN MAXWELL, Australia cricketer who scored 31 runs in the match.

He is just an unbelievable batsman! No need to say anymore.

BRIAN LARA, West Indies batting great.

No question @imVkohli is the greatest ever judge of a chase I have ever seen... Cool as you like... #Timing #Genius

MICHAEL VAUGHAN, former England captain.

Shane Warne was at the receiving end of Tendulkar's wrath in that match and 18 years later, the Australian spin great saw Tendulkar's shadow in Kohli's latest knock.

"Great knock by @imVkohli Reminded me of one of your many special innings buddy," Warne tweeted to Tendulkar after Kohli secured India a place in the semi-finals.

"Of the modern players, I've always thought that Brian Lara was the best placer of the ball," former Australia captain Ian Chappell told www.espncricinfo.com. "I think I have got Brian in second spot now."

The West Indian batting great also hailed the Indian as the "best timer of a cricket ball" that he has seen.

At 27, Kohli stands on the brink of batting greatness with 36 international centuries, and averages of 44 in Tests, 51 in one-dayers and 55 in Twenty20 matches.

It has been a fascinating transformation of a Delhi cricketer perceived initially as yet another brash brat from the streets of a city long accused of inculcating aggression in its youth.

Over the past eight years, Dhoni has closely watched the tattoo-wearing, blunt-speaking, heart-on-his-sleeve youngster transform into a mature match-winner.

"He will always be the same," said Dhoni said. "He will be an aggressive character who will be ready to take on challenges. But he will also improve. He is shifting in the right direction but he is a tremendous character. He should not lose his character because that's what his strength is."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2016, with the headline 'Top chaser in Tendulkar batting class'. Print Edition | Subscribe