CENTURION – Virat Kohli is not interested in whether anyone regards him as the best batsman in the world.
Kohli drove India to a thumping 5-1 series win over South Africa here on Friday night, inflicting one of the worst defeats the Proteas have suffered on home soil in a bilateral series.
Kohli notched up his third century on Friday night – 129 off just 96 balls (19x4, 2x6) as India chased down a target of 205, winning by eight wickets with more than 18 overs to spare.
Kohli’s series aggregate of 558 runs was the highest by any player in a bilateral series and the seventh highest in any one-day competition.
However, the Indian captain was not entering into any debate about whether he was the world’s best batsman.
“I don’t feel like competing with anyone. It’s all about how I prepare, what my work ethic is like and how I’m feeling on game-day,” said Kohli. “My only motivation is getting into that frame of mind. I only look to help my team in any way I can. If during the course of that, if you’re thinking about the team, special things happen.
“But if you’re thinking about being ahead of someone else, you’ll be found out very soon in this game, and then you’re compromising on what the team needs.
“I don’t want any tags, any headlines, I just go out there do my job. I don’t want to be called anything – it’s my job, I’m supposed to do what I’m doing.”
Friday’s was Kohli’s 35th ODI century, and only Sachin Tendulkar who scored 49 is ahead of him. The ‘Little Master’ scored those in 463 matches, and Kohli played just his 208th match on Friday.
While Kohli wasn’t interested in measuring his status in the game, Indian coach Ravi Shastri wasted no time in giving his opinion about where Kohli ranked.
“I’ve seen him batting across all conditions in all formats and it’s not just averages, it’s the way you get runs, when you get it and the impact those runs have on what the team does. I would safely say he’s the best batsmen in the world now,” Shastri said.
“Virat’s desperation to win games for his side is massive,” said South Africa’s stand-in captain Aiden Markram.
“That’s why he conducts himself the way he does, but it’s from a competitive point of view, there is nothing malicious. That desperation is shown when he bats, he doesn’t just want to get close to the line, he gets his side over the line and we saw that again tonight.”
The Proteas and India will play the first of a three-game T20 International series at the Wanderers on Sunday.