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Virat Kohli Grabbed The Position of Top-Ranked Batsman in ICC Test Batting Rankings

Virat Kohli became the top-ranked batsman top-ranked batsman in Test cricket for the first time in his career as he ended Australian Steven Smith's reign of nearly 32 months.

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Kohli emerged the lone batting star for the visitors in the 31-run loss at Edgbaston. Flickr
Kohli emerged the lone batting star for the visitors in the 31-run loss at Edgbaston. Flickr

India captain Virat Kohli on Sunday became the top-ranked batsman in Test cricket for the first time in his career as he ended Australian Steven Smith’s reign of nearly 32 months.

Kohli scored 149 and 51 in India’s 31-run defeat in the first Test in Birmingham against England and has gone up by 31 points, according to an International Cricket Council (ICC) release.

“The 29-year-old right-hander from Delhi also became the seventh India batsman and first since Sachin Tendulkar in June 2011, to top the rankings for Test batsmen, which were released on Sunday morning following the conclusion of the Edgbaston Test,” ICC said.

Kohli now leads Smith (who had held the top spot since December 2015) by five points, but will have to maintain the form in the remaining four Tests to finish the series as the world’s highest-ranked batsman.

Tendulkar had joined South Africa’s Jacques Kallis in the number one position in January 2011, but had dropped to second spot following the Jamaica Test in June 2011 after he had missed the three-Test series against the West Indies.

Virat Kohli. Flickr
Virat Kohli. Flickr

Apart from Kohli and Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir, Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag and Dilip Vengsarkar are the other India batsmen to have achieved number one rankings during their careers.

However, at 934 points, Kohli has become India’s highest-ranked batsman, 14th overall, on the all-time tally of points. Kohli had entered the Edgbaston Test on 903 points, 13 points behind Gavaskar, and is now ahead of the ICC Cricket Hall of Famer by 18 points.

If Kohli can deliver another strong performance in the second Test at Lord’s, then he can break into the top-10 by leapfrogging Matthew Hayden, Kallis and AB de Villiers, whose highest points tally was 935 each. Donald Bradman (961) and Steve Smith (947) are the two batsmen sitting on top of this exclusive list.

Kohli, who powered India to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup title in 2008 and then won the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2017, is the 76th player to top the Test batting rankings.

He is also the number one ranked ODI batsman, but is ranked 12th in T20Is, 220 points behind number one ranked Aaron Finch of Australia.

Top-ranked batsman, Virat Kohli. Flickr
Top-ranked batsman, Virat Kohli. Flickr

However, in the rankings, India’s Lokesh Rahul 19th (down by one place), Ajinkya Rahane 22nd (down by three places), Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dawan, who now share 25th position after slipping two and one spots, respectively, have lost ground.

Following the Test in Birmingham, the batsmen to lose ground after the Edgbaston Test include Alastair Cook 17th (down by four places), respectively, and Ben Stokes 33rd (down by five places).

In the bowlers’ table, Stuart Broad of England and Mohammed Shami of India are the two bowlers inside the top-20 who have dropped their positions, while James Anderson has retained his top position but his lead over Kagiso Rabada has been reduced to two points.

Broad is now ranked 13th after falling one place, while Shami is in 19th spot after sliding two places.

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Stokes has compensated for his double failure with the bat by taking six wickets in the Test, including three of India’s last four wickets. For this performance, he has been rewarded with a rise of four places, which has put him in 27th position.

India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has gained 14 points following his four for 62 and three for 59, which means he now trails South Africa’s fourth-ranked Vernon Philander by just one point.

Pacer Ishant Sharma has collected 19 points to move within 13 points of 25th-ranked team-mate Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

England’s 20-year-old Sam Curran is another fascinating story from what was a nerve-wracking 1000th England men’s Test. The left-handed all-rounder scored 24 and 63 with the bat, and claimed match figures of five for 92 with the ball, which not only earned him the player of the match award but significant gains in the latest rankings.

In the batting table, Curran has jumped from 152nd to 72nd, the bowling table has seen him rise 49 places to 62nd, while in the all-rounders’ category, he now sits in 37th position after jumping 58 places. (IANS)

Next Story

2019 is One of India’s Best Years in Cricket: Virat Kohli

Indian cricket in 2019 - A moment to remember

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Virat Kohli Cricket
Indian Cricket team captain Virat Kohli feels that 2019 was the best year for Indian cricket. Wikimedia Commons

BY YAJURVINDRA SINGH

Captain Virat Kohli’s final statement on Indian cricket at the end of the year was so true. He said, “2019 is one of India’s best years in cricket barring those 30 minutes at the World Cup.” If one reflects on the performance of Indian cricket in 2019 which started with a bang by beating Australia in a Test match series, for the first time, in Australia. This truly remarkable achievement by the Indian side not only gave it that much needed boost to their morale and confidence but also established them as the best Test side in the world.

There were a few defeats during the year but most of them were account of experimenting, resting senior players and giving opportunities to Indian players sitting on the bench.

The most significant moment that humbled the strong Indian cricket side and the year’s performances was their semi-final defeat against New Zealand in the World Cup. The Indian team had played extraordinarily well to head their group in the preliminary stage, losing only to the ultimate winners, England. Chasing a moderate total of 239 runs for victory, India’s formidable top order collapsed in just 30 minutes and were tottering at 24 for 4 even before the first 10 overs were bowled. India never recovered from that blow and their dream of winning another World Cup faded in the horizon.

India Cricket
The most significant moment that humbled the strong Indian cricket side and the year’s performances was their semi-final defeat against New Zealand in the World Cup. Wikimedia Commons

Looking back at the curtains now drawn for the year, this was perhaps the only blemish that tarnished the significant performances of the India side. The great West Indian side had a similar moment in the 1983 final when they lost to India in the World Cup. To them then, it looked like a total that they would normally chase without blinking an eyelid, but, it turned out to be their nemesis.

Cricket has these uncertain moments and the song, “one moment in time” sung by the wonderful singer Whitney Huston for the summer Olympics in 1988 held in Seoul, is so appropriate, not only for an individual but also for a team. These precious moments are all that one hopes and prays for, in the life of a sportsman. This is what finally establishes them and the team of being a winner or an also ran.

The South African cricket side is a good example of how mental pressure of failure could even affect future teams. They have on many occasions looked like a winning side in an ICC tournament and have failed to deliver due to several different reasons. The side is now branded in world cricket as “chokers” and this tag, unfortunately, has remained every time their side plays in another ICC World Cup tournament. They have in the last two decades produced some outstanding cricketers, but somehow lady-luck has never blessed them when they most need it to break out of the barriers of the past.

The year 2020 has the World T20 later in the year in Australia. India will be one of the likely tournament favourites, especially as they have two of the best T20 batsmen in Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as well as three of the top pace bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. At present, the likely Indian T20 team will comprise of a majority of the players who were part of their World Cup 2019 side.

Indian cricket team
The skills, confidence and capability of the Indian cricket team are well known. Wikimedia Commons

This is a major factor that concerns one. For India to be successful, they will need to forget those disastrous 30 minutes of their moment in time of the year 2019. The skills, confidence and capability of the Indian side are well known to one and all, but the team will be tested more on their mental rather than on their cricketing capabilities.

This is where the BCCI will need to play a significant part in ensuring that a mental coaching and strengthening is also an important part in the preparation of the side for the World Cup T20.

International cricket is played more in the mind than on the field. For them to be at the world stage, already makes them players who have the potential and skill to be there. With less than a dozen T20I games left in the Indian calendar before their first World T20 match on October 24, 2020, they not only require to fill the million dollar question that still prevails about the middle order batters, but also, about their mental preparation for the task ahead.

The IPL (Indian Premier League) will play an important part in the final composition of the Indian T20 side, but playing for a franchise is completely different from when one wears the Indian colours.

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With more than a billion people following every step of the teams’ progress and the added responsibility of playing for the nation, the pressures are as different as chalk and cheese.

One wishes the Indian team a super 2020, with victory over New Zealand and Australia in order to qualify for the final of the ongoing World Test Championship, as well as for them to bring the World T20 trophy home — a cup that they won in the inaugural year of 2007. (IANS)