Virat Kohli, the veteran batsman of Team India, has been in sensational form throughout the current World Cup. In the team’s initial four matches, he has compiled a remarkable total of 259 runs, boasting an impressive average of 129.50 and a strike rate of 90.24. Kohli, aged 34, commenced his World Cup 2023 journey with a resilient innings, amassing 85 runs off 116 balls against Australia in Chennai. Alongside KL Rahul, who remained unbeaten with 97 runs off 115 balls, he salvaged India from a perilous 2/3 situation while chasing a target of 200. Kohli exhibited his customary composure as he scored an unbeaten 55 runs in a commanding victory against Afghanistan. Despite a modest run chase against Pakistan where he fell cheaply, he rebounded with a classical century in the match against Bangladesh, expertly steering the team to victory with an elegant 103 not out off 97 balls.

Following his century against Bangladesh, Kohli now possesses an impressive tally of 48 one-day international centuries. His overall record in the 50-over format is truly remarkable. In 285 matches, he has amassed 13,342 runs with an average of 58 and an impressive strike rate of 93.71, including 48 centuries and 68 fifties. These statistics are undoubtedly sensational, but the question arises: Has Kohli done enough to be considered the greatest ODI player of all time? Let’s delve into the analysis.

Kohli is unquestionably one of the top contenders for the title of the greatest ODI player. Other prominent candidates in this category include legends such as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Sanath Jayasuriya, Rohit Sharma, AB de Villiers, and Sir Viv Richards, among others. When it comes to the fear factor he generates among bowlers, Kohli is most akin to Viv Richards. Bowlers used to dread Richards during his prime, and a similar sentiment is evident when facing Kohli, even though Kohli doesn’t possess the same unique swagger that Richards did. However, this factor is not the primary determinant, being more of a personality trait than a defining criterion.

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In terms of cricketing skills, Kohli has outperformed Tendulkar in terms of scoring big. He has broken numerous records previously held by the Master Blaster, and there is a significant difference in the number of matches played by the two. It’s important to note that comparing the stats of these two greats directly is unfair, as they played in different eras. Kohli himself acknowledges that batting has become easier in recent times due to field restrictions, a lack of high-quality bowling, and batting-friendly pitches at most venues. Nevertheless, Kohli’s record stands as remarkable, with no modern-era player coming close to matching his insatiable hunger for runs.

While Ponting is another strong contender with his match-winning ability and exceptional skills under pressure, he did experience some lean phases, albeit very few. Credit is due to Jayasuriya, Rohit, and De Villiers, but Kohli has done enough to stand above all of them in the race for the title of the greatest ODI player. His performances in the one-day format have reached a level of excellence that sets him apart.

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The three Cs – Kohli’s success formula in ODIs: Consistency, Chase Mastery, and Command have been pivotal to Kohli’s extraordinary success in one-day cricket. In terms of consistency, Kohli has seldom averaged below 47 in one-day cricket in a calendar year. He began his ODI career in 2008, averaging 31.80 in his first five matches, which is understandable for a newcomer. However, his averages in subsequent years have been outstanding, including 54.16 in 2009, over 47 in 2010 and 2011, 68.40 in 2012, and over 50 in 2013 and 2014. While he had a relatively poor year in 2015, with an average of 36, he compensated by averaging over 92 and 76.84 in the following two seasons. His exceptional year was 2018 when he averaged 133.55.

Notably, the period between 2019 and 2022 was considered a lean phase for Kohli. Surprisingly, he averaged 59.86, 47.88, and 43 in 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively. It was only in 2022 that he averaged a comparatively low 27.45. However, Kohli is back in top form in 2023, having already scored 871 runs in 20 matches with an average of 67 and a strike rate of 105.06. Few players, even some of the biggest names in the game, can match his incredibly consistent record in one-day cricket over the years.

The term “Chase Master” is frequently used to describe Kohli, and this special ability sets him apart as perhaps the greatest one-day cricketer in terms of chasing down targets. Michael Bevan, of Australia, was once referred to as the master of chases in one-dayers, and he was truly brilliant. However, his average of 53.58 is somewhat inflated by his unbeaten scores in 196 innings. Still, Bevan comes closest to Kohli when it comes to chasing down targets in one-day cricket. In winning chases in ODIs, Kohli is at the top of the list, amassing 5691 runs from 101 matches with an astonishing average of 90.33. No other batsman, past or present, comes close to Kohli in terms of average in successful chases.

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As for his command over building an ODI innings, Kohli has perfected the art. He adapts his playing style to the situation at hand. In the ongoing World Cup, he played an anchoring role against Australia when India was in trouble at 2/3. Against Afghanistan, he supported Rohit’s aggressive play with a more measured approach, and in the match against Bangladesh, he showcased his chase-master skills, guiding India to a comprehensive victory.

In summary, Virat Kohli, the ODI batsman, is a multi-faceted player, adapting his style to the demands of the game. Whether he can be crowned the greatest ODI batsman of all time is a matter of debate, but it’s clear that he resides in a league of his own.