Australia ODI captain Aaron Finch hailed the consistency of India skipper Virat Kohli and said the rivalry between the two teams is just as big in limited-overs formats as it is Test cricket.

Kohli made his Test debut nine years ago and has gone on to become one of the game's greatest batsmen, as well as taking on the captaincy across all three formats.

There is little love lost on the field between Australia and India but Finch recognises Kohli's class, saying he is part of a group of players such as Steve Smith, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar who define greatness.

"Every player, regardless of who it is, has a bad series. But very, very rarely do you see Kohli, Smith, even going back Ponting, Sachin, these guys they don't have two bad series in a row," Finch said on the Sony Ten Pit Stop show.

"The pressure of playing for India is one thing but also leading India is another and the way he has done it, so consistently for a long time.

"And taking over from [MS] Dhoni, the leadership, that is huge. The expectations were high and he kept delivering and I think that that is the most impressive thing.

"What has been so impressive for so long is just his consistency across three formats. To be the best player of all-time in ODI cricket is one thing. But then to also be in Test cricket and T20 cricket as a rounded player, that is remarkable."

Australia are scheduled to go head-to-head with India for three T20 matches in October, before beginning a four-Test series in December and rounding out with three ODIs in January next year.

The uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic means no fixtures are particularly set in stone right now, but Finch says the rivalry between Australia and India is hot regardless of the format.

"India and Australia are two very successful teams, two countries that are very passionate about cricket as well. So, it's hard to compare the rivalry [in Tests and ODIs]," Finch told reporters on virtual news conference.

"One is the traditional game of Test cricket and the grind of five days, that mental battle day in day out while one-day cricket is more skill-based obviously, just on that day. If a couple of guys have a great day on the field, it goes a long way in winning the match.

"That said, it's not a case of being less important or being taken lightly because it's ODI or T20 cricket."

The global health pandemic has seen Australia's home ODI series with Zimbabwe, which was scheduled for August, postponed indefinitely.

As things stand, T20 clashes with the West Indies and India in October that precede the T20 World Cup – which could still be rearranged – will be the next assignments for Australia.

But there remains the possibility of limited-overs matches being organised to take place in England, something Finch is preparing for.

"It's a little bit up in the air, just with how quickly everything is changing. In Victoria [where restrictions have been tightened] we are going the other way again," he said.

"We're not exactly sure when our next game is going to be. In our mind we were planning for Zimbabwe, we were planning for England, and all going well, I think that was our next game, that's what we are planning for.

"I am preparing to go to England and play, whether that happens we will wait and see.

"We just have to be really conscious of being ultra flexible. There might be a tour comes up at relatively short notice because we can get there, and that would be brilliant.

"Whatever it takes. The players are all in the same boat. Whatever we have to do to get a game up and going, that is in the best interest of world cricket, we’d be up for that."

It is nine years to the day since India captain Virat Kohli made his Test debut at the age of 22.

Kohli contributed just 19 runs in the two innings of his Test bow in a victory against West Indies at Sabina Park, twice snared caught behind by Fidel Edwards.

The elegant batsman soon shed the 'one-day specialist' tag, though, and has since established himself as one of the best players in the world in all formats.

We look at Kohli's exploits in the longest format with data supplied by Opta.

 

Almost on a par with Tendulkar 

The great Sachin Tendulkar is comfortably the highest Test run-scorer of all time with 15,921 and Kohli will not be threatening his record.

However, Kohli could soon be bettering his legendary compatriot's average of 53.78.

The India skipper averages 53.62, scoring 7,240 runs from his 145 knocks, with Tendulkar having recorded his incredible average from a mammoth 329 innings.

 

Leading by example

Taking on captaincy duties has proved to be a burden for some players of the years, but that is definitely not the case with Kohli.

Quite the opposite, in fact, as the 31-year-old has thrived since taking on the extra responsibility of leading his country,

Kohli, skipper in all formats, has the record for most runs as India captain and there will no doubt be plenty more to come.

He has averaged 61.2 from 90 Test knocks as captain compared to 41.1 in 55 innings before taking on the duties.

 

A double no trouble

Only three batsmen have scored more Test double centuries than India's superstar middle-order craftsman.

Kohli has seven to his name and achieved two in as many matches in a series against Sri Lanka in 2017.

Don Bradman (12), Kumar Sangakkara (11) and Brian Lara (9) are the only players to have scored more Test double-hundreds.

 

Cemented among 'the big three'

Some rate Kohli as the best Test batsman in the world, but the rankings show Australia run machine Steve Smith has that mantle.

Kohli can boast a higher career-best score than Smith and New Zealand's run-machine captain Kane Williamson, with an unbeaten 254 against South Africa last year.

He also has the most centuries with 27, but Smith has just one fewer and has played 13 fewer Tests.

A joy to watch when at his majestic best, Kohli also has a better strike rate than Smith (55.3) and Williamson (51.6) with 57.7 runs per 100 balls. 

 

Home comforts

Kohli has treated packed crowds in his homeland to many memorable masterclasses over the years.

His record in India is phenomenal, with an average of 68.4 in 60 Test innings.

That is the best by any batsman in the country to have made at least 30 trips to the crease.

The Prince of Port of Spain did not pay enough respect to One-Day International cricket, so says world-renowned cricket umpire and commentator Chris Taylor and his opinions seem to have found favour with both the SportsMax Zone and a panel of experts picking SportsMax’s Ultimate ODI XI.

That favour does not extend to the Fanalysts picking the SportsMax Ultimate XI online though.

For them, Brian Lara is the first name that should be counted among batsmen 3-5.

Already, Lara has the most votes with India’s Virat Kohli running a close second. The final spot, according to the Fanalyst should go to ‘Mr 360’, South Africa’s AB de Villiers.

Just outside of the running for the Fanalyst is Sir Vivian Richards.

Neither the panel nor the SportsMax Zone would dare to leave Sir Viv out again after Fanalysts swung the Test XI voting in favour of Australia’s Don Bradman.

Thus far, the Zone and the panel have been moving in lock-step, both picking Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar as their openers and both coming up with Viv Richards, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli as their batsmen from 3-5.

That means, of course, there is no space for fan favourite Lara, while all three groups are in agreement that Ricky Ponting, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ross Taylor, Mike Hussey, Michael Bevan, Kumar Sangakarra, Inzamam-ul-Haq, and Aravinda de Silva don’t quite match up, as great as they all are.

With technique and temperament to succeed in every condition and format, Virat Kohli cutting loose is one of the exalted sights of the modern game — be it for India, Delhi or Royal Challengers Bangalore. He is already at the rarefied top of the ODI and T20 formats.  His style is based on the sound fundamentals of batting, topped with the finishing flair of god-gifted genius.     

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Virat Kohli

Born: November 5, 1988, Delhi

Major teams: India, Delhi, India A, India Blue, India Emerging Players, India Red, India Under-19s, Indian Board President's XI, North Zone, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, Rest of India, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Surrey

Playing role: Top-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

 

ODI Career: India (2008–present)

Mat    Inns    NO   Runs     HS    Ave      BF         SR       100s    50s     4s        6s      

248      239    39    11867    183   59.33    12726   93.25       43     58       1116    121   

 

Career Highlights

  • ICC ODI Player of the Year (2012, 2017, 2018)
  • Highest average (min 5,000 runs) in the history of ODI cricket
  • 2nd most ODI centuries (43)
  • Fastest to 8,000; 9,000; 10,000; and 11,000 runs in ODIs
  • Has scored 5,388 runs in successful run chases at an average of 96.21
  • His 22 hundreds are the most in successful run chases
  • Has scored more than 1,000 runs in ODIs in a calendar year on 7 occasions
  • Reached the 1,000 ODI run mark in a year in record time – 11 innings

West Indies T20 specialist and former captain of the One-Day International team, Dwayne Bravo had some interesting choices to make during an interview on Cricbuzz, leaving out some big names on a list of five of the best T20 players in the game today.

Bravo, who was interviewed by Cricbuzz’s Harsha Bhogle, was given six players to choose from in each of five rounds of choices and here’s what he came up with.

In the first round, Bravo was made to choose from among Australia’s Matthew Hayden and David warner, India’s Virender Sehwag, New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum, and the West Indies’ Dwayne Smith and Chris Gayle.

Bravo chose Gayle.

The second round saw Bravo having to pick one of India’s Gautam Gambir and KL Rahul, England’s Johnny Bairstow and Joss Buttler, and Australia’s Shane Watson and Chris Lynn.

Bravo chose Watson.

India’s Virat Kohli was lined up against teammate Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina, as well as South Africa’s Faf Du Plessis and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson.

According to Bravo, while Raina is his favourite batsman, he would have to go with Kohli.

Up next were India’s Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant and Yuvraj Singh, Australia’s Michael Hussey, England’s Ben Stokes, and South Africa’s AB de Villiers.

Bravo went with de Villiers.

In the final round Bravo had a major struggle with picking from a grouping of India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Hardik Pandya, Australia’s Glenn Maxwell, and the West Indian pair of Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard.

Bravo eventually went with Dhoni.

So Bravo’s choices as the top-five players today, given the imitations of the choices put to him were Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Given the grouping of choices, is Bravo correct?

Steve Smith and Virat Kohli are talismanic figures who set the tone for their respective international sides, according to David Warner.

Australia's Smith and India's Kohli are two of the finest batsmen of their generation, occupying first and second spot respectively in the current Test rankings.

The duo are set to meet if India's tour of Australia – scheduled to begin in October – goes ahead, although significant doubt remains as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose a threat.

If it should go ahead, Warner expects to see great things from the two leading men, who he says act as figureheads for their sides.

"When it comes to cricket, they both have got the mental strength, the mental capacity to score runs," Warner told Cricbuzz.

"They stabilise, they boost morale – if they score runs, everyone else's morale is up. If they are out cheaply, you almost sense that on the field that everyone is … [down on morale and thinking] now we all have to step up. It's a very bizarre situation.

"They both love spending time in the middle. Virat's passion and drive to score runs is different to what Steve's would be.

"Steve is going out there for a hit in the middle, that's how he sees things. He's hitting them out in the middle, he's having fun, he's enjoying himself, just does not want to get out.

"Virat, obviously, doesn't want to get out, but he knows if he spends a certain amount of time out there, he's going to score plenty of runs at a rapid rate.

"He's going to get on top of you. That allows the guys coming in [to play their own game], especially in the Indian team you've got a lot of players who can be flamboyant as well."

Virat Kohli has the talent, fitness and drive to break Sachin Tendulkar's all-time runs record, according to Brett Lee.

India great Tendulkar, who celebrated his 47th birthday on Friday, retired in 2013 having scored 34,357 international runs across all formats in a 24-year career.

No other batsman has gone beyond 29,000 runs, yet current India captain Kohli is the leading active player, amassing 21,901 runs in 416 matches since debuting in 2008.

Kohli currently has a higher one-day international average - 59.33 to Tendulkar's 44.83 - and his Test number is similar - 53.62 to 53.78 - while the 31-year-old averages above 50 in Twenty20 cricket, too.

"We are talking about phenomenal numbers here, so you mentioned seven to eight years of cricket and at the rate [Kohli] is going, yes, he can definitely knock it off," former Australian bowler Lee said on Star Sports.

"It comes down to three things, there is one thing I would like to eliminate - so, you talk about talent as a batsman, he's definitely got that talent, eliminate that first and foremost.

"Then fitness - Virat Kohli has got that fitness, so for me it is all about fitness at the age of 30 and also that mental strength, the mental capacity to get through those hard times, being away from home, from his wife, or when they will have children.

"He will do it easily with his talent, it comes down to his mental strength and if he stays fit enough and I believe he has got all those three components to go past Sachin."

Having backed Kohli to better the marks of another India great, Lee was quick to point out the high esteem he holds Tendulkar in.

"But, how can you say someone can go past Sachin Tendulkar," he added. "This is God here, can someone go better than God? We will wait and see."

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon believes Virat Kohli would have no trouble adjusting to playing without fans in attendance but joked the India star may "try and rev up the seats".

An ODI between Australia and New Zealand was played behind closed doors in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It remains to be seen when fans will again be allowed in to watch sporting events, with Australia due to host India from October.

Kohli is renowned for his ability to feed off crowds and Lyon joked the batsman could instead turn to the seats, although he was full of praise for the 31-year-old.

"He's probably good enough to adapt to any scenario," the off-spinner told a video conference on Tuesday.

"I was actually talking to Mitch Starc the other day and we actually said if we are playing with no crowd it would be quite amazing to see Virat try and rev up the seats.

"It's going to be a little bit different, but I think Virat, he's a superstar, he'll be able to adapt to any climate that we're able to play in."

While there is plenty of uncertainty over the series, Lyon said he was excited about welcoming India, who retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2018-19.

"I'm just excited about the prospect of India coming out. I think India coming out here to Australia, it's up there with the biggest series alongside the Ashes," he said.

"Obviously they're an absolute powerhouse of the cricket world so to have those guys out here is going to be fantastic. Playing in front of crowds or in front of no crowds, it's out of our control.

"We've got to be supported by and follow the advice from all the amazing medical people around the world giving out all the advice so it's out of our control.

"I haven't really thought about playing in front of no crowds or massive crowds, it's just about the opportunity about playing against India again.

"Obviously they had the wood over us last time they come out here, but I feel like we're a much stronger Australian cricket side at the moment and I'm just unbelievably excited about the prospect of playing them here at home."

Chris Gayle is best known for his power-hitting exploits in all formats of the game.

West Indies legend Shivnarine Chanderpaul has been talking to the media in India sharing his thoughts on who he believes is the best batsman in the world.

Sunday was due to see the start of the Indian Premier League in 2020, with champions Mumbai Indians scheduled to take on Chennai Super Kings in a repeat of last year's final.

It was to be the first of 56 group games during the 13th season, the success of the lucrative Twenty20 competition showing no signs of slowing up despite pretenders springing up all over the world hoping to find the same magic formula for success.

However, the coronavirus outbreak put paid to the best-laid plans.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced a postponement until April 15 initially, yet it remains to be seen when – perhaps even if – the campaign will begin, considering the health crisis that is unfolding around the globe.

Still need your IPL fix, though? Why not enjoy a leisurely trip down memory lane to recall some of the notable moments in the tournament's history.

Virat Kohli lamented India's batting after their Test series loss to New Zealand, while paying tribute to the Black Caps.

New Zealand wrapped up a 2-0 series win over India on Monday thanks to a seven-wicket victory in Christchurch.

India struggled with the bat throughout the series, posting scores of 165 and 191 in the first Test in Wellington and 242 and 124 at Hagley Oval.

Kohli praised New Zealand's bowlers and rued his side's batting after their series defeat.

"It was a matter of not having enough intent in the first game and then playing well in the first innings here but then again the small things, small margins," the India captain told Sky Sport.

"When you sit down and look back at this series you have to also give credit to the New Zealand bowlers because they bowled in the right areas for long enough, created a lot of pressure. There were hardly any scoring opportunities so that meant you had to play extravagant shots to get runs rather than just rotating strike and getting runs easily.

"It was a combination of us not quite having the right kind of execution and New Zealand playing really well in their conditions and I think the bowling and the consistency was outstanding and that's something that forced our batting to make those mistakes.

"We're usually a batting side that does show a bit of fight and put up scores on the board, but there was just not enough done by the batsmen in the series for the bowlers to try and attack."

After ripping through the India lower-order to begin day three in Christchurch, New Zealand were untroubled on the way to their target of 132 for victory.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson was happy with his team and said their ability to combine for small but vital partnerships was crucial.

"Outstanding," he said. "Both fairly sporting surfaces where bowlers had to put the ball in the right area, but if you did you created opportunities throughout every day of this game which was surprising. History suggests that it does a bit initially and then flattens out.

"I guess therein lies the value in a lot of those partnerships that we had with the bat, those 30s and 40s that were huge out there on that surface.

"I don't think the end result reflected how perhaps tight that match was because as we saw in both innings the ball going past the outside of the bat and it is such a fine line, but a fantastic series from our side in terms of the balance with the bat and the ball and the way the guys stuck at it.

"As we know, it is a fine line and India are a world-class side, top of the comp [ICC World Test Championship], so a great effort from the guys."

Kyle Jamieson's maiden Test five-for triggered an India collapse as New Zealand made a strong start to the second and final Test on Saturday.

Jamieson tore through India, who went from 194-5 to 242 all out in a remarkable tea session on day one in Christchurch, with figures of 5-45 in 14 overs.

New Zealand reached stumps at 63-0, trailing by 179 runs, thanks to openers Tom Lathan (27 not out) and Tom Blundell (29 not out) at Hagley Oval.

Rain delayed the start of play in New Zealand, where ICC's top-ranked Test side India were looking to bounce back from their crushing defeat against the Black Caps in Wellington.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bowl first, and it proved a wise decision when Trent Boult (2-89) trapped Mayank Agarwal lbw for seven after India made it through six overs unscathed.

The Black Caps' bowling attack did not have it all their own way – highly rated opener Prithvi Shaw showing intent early on as he kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Shaw scored 54 runs from just 64 deliveries before he fell victim to Jamieson – who claimed 4-39 in the first innings of the opening Test against India on his debut – prior to lunch, Latham's stunning catch at second slip ending a promising knock.

Tim Southee (2-38) then took the prized scalp of struggling India skipper Virat Kohli (3) shortly after lunch as the tourists fell to 85-3.

Only two other wickets fell in the middle session – Ajinkya Rahane (7) and Hanuma Vihari (55) via Southee and Neil Wagner (1-29) – as India looked relatively comfortable heading into the tea break.

But it all fell apart for India in the final session as Jamieson cleaned up the visitors with four wickets in a stunning spell, which saw Kohli's side crumble for 48-5.

Cheteshwar Pujara (54), Rishabh Pant (12), Umesh Yadav (0) and Ravindra Jadeja (9) were dismissed by Jamieson, while Boult ripped out Mohammed Shami's off stump.

Latham and Blundell then saw New Zealand through to the end of play without loss amid fading light after 23 overs.

Virat Kohli lamented India's uncompetitiveness with the bat in the first innings of their comprehensive Test loss to New Zealand.

The Black Caps secured their 100th Test victory on Monday, beating India by 10 wickets in Wellington in the series opener.

India were bowled out for 165 in the first innings and 191 in the second and Kohli rued their initial effort at the Basin Reserve.

"It was probably the toss that turned out to be very important, but at the same time as a batting unit I think we take a lot of pride in being competitive and we were just not competitive enough," India captain Kohli told Sky Sport.

"I don't think we put their bowlers under enough pressure in the first innings. Anything over 220-230 then you're talking a different language and even the deficit looks much lesser if you get that score on the board and you get the last three batsmen out cheaper, which wasn't the case.

"But I think that first innings really put us behind in the game already and then that lead obviously put us under a lot of pressure which was hard to come back from."

India had New Zealand at 225-7 in their first innings, only for Kyle Jamieson (44), Colin de Grandhomme (43) and Trent Boult (38) to push the hosts to 348.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson was delighted with the victory, with Tim Southee grabbing a five-for in the second innings.

"It was an outstanding effort over the space of four days and we know how strong this Indian team is all around the world," he said.

"The efforts that went into that first innings to put the ball in the right area for long periods of time and I think that with the bat to get what was a very competitive total on a surface that I thought was a really good one that offered throughout the whole match, and the lower-order runs are really important to try and get a little bit of a lead.

"As we saw that if you did pick up a wicket you could get a couple so an outstanding all-round team effort."

The second and final Test starts in Christchurch on Saturday.

Trent Boult's lower-order runs and three vital wickets catapulted New Zealand into a commanding position against India on day three of the first Test.

The left-arm swing bowler clubbed 38 from 24 balls to help the Black Caps post 348 following valuable contributions from Colin de Grandhomme (43) and Kyle Jamieson (44) at Basin Reserve on Sunday.

India, who managed a paltry 165 in the first innings, trailed by 183 runs when Ishant Sharma (5-68) ended Boult's cameo and their headaches grew before the close of play.

Boult removed Prithvi Shaw (14), Cheteshwar Pujara (11) and Virat Kohli (19), while Tim Southee strangled Mayank Agarwal down the leg side for 58 as the tourists battled to 144-4, still 39 runs behind.

India had looked set for a brighter day in Wellington after Jasprit Bumrah extracted an edge from BJ Watling with the first ball of the opening over, after New Zealand had resumed on 216-5.

Southee lasted 14 deliveries before falling to Ishant, which brought debutant Jamieson to the crease.

The towering quick, who claimed four wickets in India's innings, proved there is more than one string to his bow as he hammered four sixes in an entertaining 45-ball knock.

Jamieson and the more measured De Grandhomme combined for 71 runs before departing within five overs of each other, Ravichandran Ashwin (3-99) striking on both occasions.

Number 11 Boult blasted the Black Caps further ahead and then made inroads into India's top order, his short ball drawing Shaw into an edge behind in the eighth over of India's second dig.

Pujara crawled to 11 runs until his concentration failed on the final ball of the second session - his 81st at the crease - with the batsman made to pay for shouldering arms to a full Boult delivery that seamed in and plucked out the off stump.

Kohli's advice prompted opener Agarwal to waste a review on a thin edge off Southee before the India captain gave wicketkeeper Watling his second catch and Boult his third wicket.

Dropping the anchor allowed Ajinkya Rahane (25) and Hanuma Vihari (15) to reach the close unbeaten but New Zealand appear well-placed to take a 1-0 series lead with two days remaining.

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