The historic Boxing Day Test in Melbourne could see India skipper Virat Kohli equal his idol Sachin Tendulkar if the former can score another century at the picturesque Melbourne Cricket Ground. Kohli currently has 11 centuries in the calendar year and Tendulkar holds the record for most centuries in a calendar year with 12 hundreds that he scored in 1998. One more century and Kohli will become the joint-most prolific century-maker across formats in a calendar year.
Interestingly, Virat Kohli is only 181 runs away from becoming the highest run-getter in a year across formats. He is at 2653 runs in 2018 and 180 runs away from the record holder Ricky Ponting (2833 in 2005) across formats.
While Kohli has been a run-machine, a lot has been made of his on-field attitude in the ongoing series against Australia. But Australia skipper Tim Paine defended his counterpart. “A lot was made of my battle with Virat in the second Test, and for the past few years when I haven’t been playing international cricket, he was one guy I loved watching,” he said in a column for Melbourne’s Herald Sun.
“Now to be out in the middle going head-to-head with him in a Test series is something I’m really relishing. Virat is someone who is prepared to wear his heart on his sleeve and like all professional athletes, hates to lose,” he said.
“I like the way Virat plays. I don’t know him personally but I’ve always admired — not only his obvious skill as a player — but the passion and aggression he plays with. People like to see that and he gets fans through the gates.”
Even Australia coach Justin Langer on Monday took Kohli’s name to say that he cannot wait to have former skipper Steve Smith back in the team after serving his 12-month ban for ball-tampering.
“We can’t wait to have him back. He’s the Virat Kohli of the Australian cricket team,” Langer said, likening the 29-year-old to India’s talismanic captain and batting mainstay.