Virat Kohli’s love affair with Australia continued as he was named captain of Cricket Australia’s One-day team of the year ahead of Steve Smith. Earlier, the International Cricket Council had named India’s young Test captain as the skipper of the world team of the year, 2016.
The accolade from the Australian cricket board was fitting as the Indian star’s dream run in 2016 started with his heroics in the limited overs series in that country. Rookie pacer Jasprit Bumrah has also made the Australian team of the year. (AUS v PAK LIVE)
What will make Kohli feel all the more special is that he has been bestowed the honour despite not being the captain of India’s one-day team and has been preferred over Australia’s own Steve Smith, whose team beat India 4-1 in the one-day series played in January. (Read: Mohammed Shami’s wife dress controversy)
Virat Kohli plays a shot during the ICC World T20 match against Bangladesh at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru (PTI)
But there’s no doubting who the star of the show was. Kohli had wowed the Australian cricket fraternity and fans with a stunning display of batting in January. Opening the ODI series with an entertaining 91 at Perth, Kohli went on to register scores of 59, 117, 106 and eight.
He was equally brilliant in the Twenty20 series, leading the first whitewash of an Australian team in their den in a three-match series, with 90 not out, 59 not out and 50.
When the teams met at the 2016 World Twenty20 at Mohali, Kohli was again at his best, winning it for India with an unbeaten 82.
“India’s skipper played only 10 ODI matches in 2016, but he again underlined his status as one of the best in the 50-over format,” CA said in a statement.
“The right-hander scored 45 or more in eight of his 10 innings for the year, notching back-to-back centuries in a run feast against Australia in January and then a magnificent 154 (not out) in a successful pursuit of 289 against New Zealand, more than half of his team’s total.
“He now averages an incredible 90.10 in 59 successful run chases for India, and has been out in the middle for the winning runs on 20 occasions,” it added.
Not just the runs, the Australians love Kohli’s approach to the game, which for them reflects their own. Like the Australians, Kohli, earlier chosen skipper of the ICC ODI Team of the Year, believes in showing his aggression on the field and gets motivated by it.
Steven Smith has been all praise for Virat Kohli’s ability as a dashing chaser in limited overs cricket (AFP)
Australian skipper Smith has been all praise for Kohli, while admitting the best way to stop him in their upcoming Test series would be to provoke the Indian captain.
“He is a world-class player and he has, obviously, led the Indian team incredibly well over the last 18 months or so. I guess for us as a team it’s trying to get him out of the strong emotional state and try and make him, I guess, a little bit angry and ruffle his feathers and things like that… then the Indian team can possibly be a little bit vulnerable,” Smith told cricket.com.au.
The Indian too has openly admitted how Australia remains one of his favourite places to tour. “I love coming to this country, it has a really positive vibe. Most importantly, I can be myself here,” Kohli had said early this year.
India and Australia will play a four-match Test series from February 23, 2017.
CA’s ODI team of the year also features young pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who made an impressive debut in the last match of the one-day series in Australia and hasn’t looked back.
Bumrah’s impact was evident as India won all four matches in Australia after he joined.
CA said: “India’s unorthodox paceman Jasprit Bumrah was a stand-out in 2016, his first year as an international player.
“While nine of his 17 wickets for the year came against Zimbabwe, it was his ability to keep scoring to a minimum that impressed us the most; he conceded more than 40 runs in an innings just once all year and his extraordinary economy rate of 3.63 is easily the best in the world for 2016,” the CA stated.
Cricket Australia’s ODI Team of Year: Virat Kohli (capt), David Warner (Australia), Quinton de Kock (wk-SA), Steve Smith (Australia), Babar Azam (Pak), Mitchell Marsh (Australia), Jos Buttler (Eng), Jasprit Bumrah, Imran Tahir (SA).
(With PTI inputs)