Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

India Captain's Standing on Top of World, with His Feet Planted on England's Chest

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

India Captain's Standing on Top of World, with His Feet Planted on England's Chest

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones @dgjones Every Tuesday

ON Thursday this week England's cricketers will walk onto the field at Cuttack for the second one-day international against India, wondering how on earth they are 1-0 down in the series.

The question can be answered in two five-letter words: Virat Kohli.

As a young, spirited and talented group of players with the best scoring rate in ODI cricket right now, England's one-day side ought to have nothing to fear from anyone, even against India in India.

But they must exhale a little every time they look at Kohli, knowing they are up against perhaps the most talented batsman in the world, in the form of his life and in his own backyard.

The Indian captain has not started wearing his shorts turned up to the lowlands of his mons pubis but the comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo have begun.

Nasser Hussain drew the likeness after Kohli (below) blazed 122 runs from 105 balls in Pune on Sunday in an innings that anchored India's thrilling run-chase of 351.

And the idea has merits, for like Ronaldo, Kohli is a thoroughly modern sportsman.

He is a fiercely hard worker, a selfimprover, a leader, an athlete and a (willing) celebrity.

He craves responsibility and the weight of expectation leading his country in all three forms at a time when England are fretting about Joe Root taking on the captaincy in one.

He is visibly, millennially, emotional: scarcely able to cap his joy or frustration, even when others around him, such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, his predecessor as Indian captain (and a man who was also once the future) choose to project strength by concealing their feelings.

And he approaches sport as both a business and a performance, both of which are fed by a hunger for growth.

With apologies for sounding like an adidas advert, growth means more than just getting better. It means doing things that aren't meant to be done.

The accepted limits of one-day cricket have been broken so many times during recent years that we may have to suspend for a while the idea that there are any.

Scores of 300 plus in 50 overs have become routine rather than exceptional; pushing through 400 is now the thing. …

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