Sanath's Praise For Kohli

December 22, 2016

Sri Lanka legend Sanath Jayasuriya Wednesday said that Virat Kohli's spirited captaincy has enabled the Indian team to find the perfect rhythm against England in the just-concluded Test series.

"Team India is in rhythm... Defeating even a strong team like England comfortably," Jayasuriya, who was here to attend a promotional, told reporters.

The Sri Lankan cricketer, who was known for his explosive batting, attributed India's stupendous performance against England to the "spirited" captaincy of Kohli.

"He is a good captain and has marshalled his bowlers well. He himself is delivering good performances," Jayasuriya said.

Former India wicket-keeper and selector, Saba Karim, who was also present on the occasion, too praised Virat.

Asked if Kohli should be made the India captain in all three formats, Karim said: "Kohli is capable. But, (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni has already been named as captain till Champions trophy in 2017."

"When Dhoni leaves, Virat naturally will take over as the captain in ODIs and T20Is."Since he became the captain of the Test team, it's a fact that Kohli has been having a brilliant time. Under his leadership, the India team is yet to lose a Test series, a record that would be a dream for any captain.

What's even more significant in Kohli's case is that despite the burden of being the captain of the Indian Test team - a job that comes with immense pressure - the man hasn't let that affect his batting. If anything, Kohli has become an even more efficient batsman in the last one year.

Records make that very clear as the 28-year-old has hit as many as three double centuries this year.

His energetic presence on the field perhaps rubs on to his players as well. Always engrossed in the affairs on the ground, Kohli wants the best from his boys. Thus far he has got that.

The success against England will earn him more points as a captain as this time, the matches were played on balanced pitches. Five-day finishes proved that India had to fight for a win and it wasn't really as lopsided as it was against South Africa last year, when overtly spinner-friendly pitches tilted the game heavily in favour of the hosts.

Not just Jayasuriya and Karim, Kohli has earned praise from many former cricketers.

Take the case of Inzamam-ul Haq, someone who played against the golden breed of Indian batsmen. The former Pakistan captain lauded Kohli as he recently said: "I always judge a batsman by seeing how many times the runs he scores leads to his team winning matches. In my opinion if a batsman scores 80 and it helps his team win, it matters more to me than someone scoring 150 and his team still losing.

"Kohli is a quality player and when he is getting runs his team does well. That is important to judge or classify a batsman's value. There is hunger in him for runs," Inzamam said.

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly, one of the most successful captains India has produced, likes the way Kohli plays his cricket.

"His aggression is two-times more than mine. He is in great form at the moment, the best in the world. We hope that he carries on in the same manner," Sourav said.

Kapil Dev, who led India to the nation's first World Cup win in cricket, said: "Virat is playing great. It's great to see an Indian play this well. I have never seen a cricketer like him. I don't want to compare him with anyone, but you go and check the records. The records speak for him. He is the best batsman of this era and I don't have to say that, because the records are self explanatory."

During the series against England, pacer James Anderson stirred controversy when he said that he was not convinced of Kohli's skills as he thought the Indian hid his flaws in subcontinental conditions.

The criticism drew Anderson flak from most quarters and Kohli got ample support.

But while praising Kohli, one must remember that his team-mates have also played crucial roles in helping the team achieve success. Be it Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja or the young Karun Nair.

Jayasuriya had special praise for Karun, who scored a brilliant 303 not out in the fifth and final Test against England at Chennai.

"It's not an easy job... One has to have tremendous patience to reach such a milestone," Jayasuriya said appreciating Karun.

Karim also heaped praise on Karun. "This young boy (Karun) has a bright future. He was selected in the team on the basis of his stupendous performance in domestic cricket and now he was created sensation by scoring a triple century against a strong team like England," Karim said.Jayasuriya also lauded Anil Kumble for shaping the Indian team well as the head coach.

"He (Kumble) has just begun his new career as a coach. Just like he was a great bowler, Anil will be a great success in his new role as coach too," Jayasuriya, who had numerous duels with Kumble during his playing days, said.

If the Indian team stays focused and can continue with their good work, they might even find success overseas, something that not many of Kohli's predecessors managed. As the captain himself has said, "it's just the beginning".

(Telegraph India)

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