ICC T20 World Cup 2022: 'Kohli is the most complete Indian batsman of my time' - Chappell
Virat Kohli is seemingly back to his best, having pulled off some sensational performances since the Asia Cup 2023. Meanwhile, Greg Chappel has rated him the best batter of his time.
Mesmerised by how former Indian skipper and top-order batter Virat Kohli floored arch-rival Pakistan in its 2022 ICC T20 World Cup opener, Australian legend Greg Chappell has rated him as the "most complete Indian batsman" of his time. In a fitting reply to his doubters, raising questions about his place in the format, Kohli struck an unbeaten 82 to clinch success from the jaws of defeat versus Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.
Describing Kohli's innings as a "song by God", the 74-year-old expressed: "None of the greats of bygone eras could have dismembered an opponent so brutally without compromising the niceties of the art of batting than Kohli did last Sunday night. Kohli is the most complete Indian batsman of my time. Only the greatest champions have the courage and the intelligence to transport their imagination beyond the mortal plane. Kohli has that. Perhaps only Tiger Pataudi has come close to transcending a similar stratosphere," Chappell composed in his column for The Sydney Morning Herald.
"Kohli played an innings that was as close to a 'song by god' as has ever been played in T20 cricket. Like a cat playing with a new skein of wool, Kohli teased then expertly picked apart an excellent Pakistan bowling attack until it lay unravelled, spent and exposed on the green carpet of the MCG," added Chappell.
Legitimised T20 cricket
Chappell additionally communicated that Kohli's innings versus Pakistan "legitimised" Twenty20 (T20) cricket. "It was an innings that showcased the art of batting like no other that I have seen in a lifetime of watching cricket. Ironically, it was also the innings that legitimised T20 cricket as, dare I say it, an art form, more than any that I have seen in the past 15 years. Nobody can dismiss T20 cricket as simply entertainment ever again," remarked Chappell.
Chappell conveyed that only ICC World Cup-winning Australia wicketkeeper-batter Adam Gilchrist could have matched Kohli in terms of sheer strokeplay. "I can think of many of the best hitters in the modern game who could have pulled off a similar victory, and probably have, but none has ever done it with pure batting skills in the manner that Kohli did against Pakistan," he expressed.
"Only Adam Gilchrist has come close in the past, but this was even more esoteric than some of his most sublime efforts. It was simply impossible to look away," added Chappell. That the knock came from the most decisive and vocal supporter of Tests made Chappell all the more hysterical.
"It gave me immense pleasure as it was played by one of the staunchest supporters and exponents of Test cricket of the past 145 years. It was the day that T20 cricket came to maturity, and the nail-biting game was played between two of the younger nations of the long form of the game in front of 90,000 ecstatic fans, most of whom were thousands of miles from the land of their birth," Chappell corresponded.
Not very long ago, there was a raging argument over Kohli's inclusion in India's T20WC squad, as he was going through the worst phase of his career following a contentious end to his leadership from all three formats of the game. Kohli also took a month-long break from the sport to deal with 'mental' issues, only to return with a bang during the 2022 Asia Cup, where he blasted his first international ton in three years and his maiden in the shortest format versus Afghanistan.
Kohli continued his form in the home T20Is versus Australia, which was the build-up to the T20WC. "We have known for some time that Kohli is in a rare class, but this was done against the backdrop of a pretty lean run during the last few years by his lofty standards," Chappell noted.
"Not many will have to go through it in Virat's glare. Everyone has had an opinion; most of it has been centred on his eyes and/or his technique as having waned in some way. As someone down that track, I know this wasn't the case. It is likely the best T20 innings of his career and may also be one of the most satisfying in any format. He looked completely at home. He was in his element," reckoned Chappell.
Would have made Shane Warne proud
The innings came at late spin great Shane Warne's home ground, as 90,000-plus fans enraptured every bit of it, and Chappell sensed had Warne been alive, the spin wizard would have been proud of the knock. Warned died of a heart attack in March this year.
"Shane Warne would be proud to have his name emblazoned on the most imposing stand at the stadium, presiding over the proceedings on a fateful evening. It was most certainly the coming-of-age of cricket's new crown jewels. Kohli willed himself to get his team over the line and demanded that anyone who loved the game of cricket stay and watched the spectacle until the end," Chappell communicated.
The match had some controversies. In the final over, a six by Kohli was called a no-ball for height. Also, there were some debatable byes as well. "It is much like NZ being punished for accidental overthrows from the opponent's bat, which cost them the 50-over World Cup Final at The Oval in 2019," Chappell recalled.
"India most likely would have won anyway, but it wouldn't have been the conclusion. I would review that rule to give the bowler credit for the dead ball if he is good enough to beat the bat and hit the stumps," concluded Chappell.
(With inputs from PTI)