Centurion: India captain Virat Kohli wears his heart on his sleeves. In fact, it is his aggression mixed with his quality to score runs at will that makes him a favourite even with the otherwise ruthless Australians. But one man who seems to be giving Kohli a run for his money and dominating headlines these days is Australia skipper Steve Smith. With his power-packed display in the just concluded Ashes, people have already started calling him the second best Australian batsman ever after Sir Donald Bradman.
Steve Smith’s last five Test scores read 141*, 40, 6, 239, 76, 102* and 83. For Kohli, the stats read 42, 0, 104*, 213, 243, 50, 5 and 28. Yes, Kohli might have scored most of these runs against a slightly weaker opposition in Sri Lanka, but that takes nothing away from the fact that he has proved himself against every opposition in world cricket. And the debate on who among Kohli, Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson is the best batsman in the world at present gets more interesting.
While most former cricketers refuse to get engulfed in the debate, former Australia and South Africa star Kepler Wessels has a nice explanation to the never-ending question. Speaking to CricketNext, Wessels said that while Kohli is definitely a showman, Smith is a work of art in the way he scores run. He feels that Root and Williamson are both technically very sound.
“I think Kohli is terrific and I like the aggressive brand of cricket he plays. I like the way he can turn a match and the impact he has across all three formats. He is definitely one of the best batsmen at the moment. I like his personality and his aggression and the way he takes the game to the opposition. I think his leadership skills have been pretty good so far and it runs on the rest of the players.
“Look it’s always difficult to compare players because they play under different conditions, in different circumstances and also for different teams. They all have been superb in modern day cricket. But Kohli is more adventurous probably than the other three. Smith is just phenomenal in the way he puts runs together at the crease, Root is very correct (in his approach) as is Williamson,” he said.
This aggressive approach of Kohli saw him chase a ball on the fourth stump and edge it behind off Morne Morkel in the first innings of the first Test. But Wessels is not too perturbed and feels that a batsman of his calibre will soon find a way to tackle this issue.
“Well the South Africans will definitely target him in that fourth stumps channel outside off stump and get that ball to bounce. They feel they have got a chance there to get him out early in the innings. You know he is a good player and he will find his way out to counter that,” he said.
The Indians were found wanting even in the second innings as they failed to chase down 208 and Wessels feels that batting for longer periods of time will hold the key in these conditions.
“They really got to apply themselves in these conditions and you got to be prepared to be patient to bat for long periods. So that is the basic difference of batting on the sub-continent and here in these conditions,” he revealed.