The legendary Sourav Ganguly has thrown a big challenge at premier batter Virat Kohli ahead of India’s Test series against Australia next month.
“He has batted really well – against Sri Lanka, against Bangladesh. He will have to improve in Test cricket because India depends on him and a very crucial series against Australia is approaching which I believe will be a cracker of a contest. I expect it to be very competitive. Both are extremely good teams and it’s quite possible that these two teams go on to play the World Test Championship final,” Sourav Ganguly told Sports Tak.
Sourav Ganguly’s comments come weeks ahead of the Border Gavaskar Trophy that would decide whether Team India will feature against Australia in the final of the World Test Championship or not.
Virat Kohli’s repeated failures in Test cricket, including last month’s disastrous series against Bangladesh, have worried fans and former cricketers, including Sourav Ganguly.
Last month, when the Test series in Bangladesh began, Virat Kohli was expected to bring an end to his long wait for a ton in whites, having last made a hundred in the longest version of the sport against the same team in 2019, in India’s maiden Day-Night Test at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
However, Virat Kohli finished the Bangladesh series with only 45 runs in four knocks, equaling his worst-ever run in the five-day version of the game, having not scored a fifty in his last 10 innings.
The only previous time the former India captain recorded such numbers was in 2014 when he could only make 134 runs during a terrible tour of England when James Anderson made him his bunny. Virat Kohli left the shores of the United Kingdom with an average of 13.40 in five Tests.
His last 10 knocks in Tests have been pathetic, to say the least, and his scores in all these innings read as 1 & 24 vs Bangladesh in the second Test, 19* & 1 vs Bangladesh in the first Test, 20 & 11 vs England, 13 & 23 vs Sri Lanka in the second Test, 45 vs Sri Lanka in the first Test and 29 vs South Africa in the second essay of the third Test.
His last half-century in Test cricket came in the Cape Town Test against South Africa in the first innings, which was also his final match as the national team’s skipper. Kohli had scored a well-compiled 79 off 201 deliveries at the time.
Virat Kohli’s scores against Bangladesh read 1, 19 not out, 24, and 1.
The Delhi-born cricket star’s poor display with the bat meant that he finished the series with an average of 15, his second-worst performance ever in a two-game bilateral series in the Asian subcontinent. It was also his fourth-worst show with the bat in a series overall.
Virat Kohli’s dismal numbers in whites are in complete contrast to his white-ball figures.
In September 2022, the 34-year-old ended his nearly three-year wait for an international ton, having slammed his maiden T20I hundred against Afghanistan during the Asia Cup.
Subsequently, Virat Kohli set the T20 World Cup in Australia on fire with a series of sublime knocks, including a sensational unbeaten 82-run-knock against Pakistan which many cricket pundits claimed was the best-ever innings in the format.
Yet Team India failed to win the competition, bowing out in the semifinals to eventual champions England. But Virat Kohli finished as the tournament’s top-scorer with 296 runs in six matches at an incredible average of 98.66.
More recently, he broke a slew of world records during his masterful unbeaten 166-run-knock off 110 deliveries against Sri Lanka this month.
Virat Kohli now has 20 Player of the Series awards to his name in international cricket, the same as Sachin Tendulkar. If we bifurcate their numbers further, Virat Kohli has claimed 3 Man of the Series trophies in Tests, 10 in ODIs, and 7 in T20Is. Talking about the Little Master’s figures, he grabbed 5 in red-ball cricket while the other 15 came in the 50-over format. He won none in T20Is.
With his 166 not out against the islanders, Virat Kohli now has the most unbeaten 150+ scores (5) in the history of ODIs.
The ton was his 21st at home in the second-longest format of the sport, taking him clear of Sachin Tendulkar’s previous tally of 20.
During his sensational innings, Virat Kohli also overtook Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardene to occupy the fifth spot among the highest run-getters in ODIs.
With 12,809 runs, Virat Kohli is now only behind Sachin Tendulkar (18,426), Kumar Sangakkara (14,234), Ricky Ponting (13,704), and Sanath Jayasuriya (13,430).
Moreover, Virat Kohli is the quickest to amass 46 centuries in ODI cricket – a milestone he achieved in just 259 innings. On the other hand, the previous record holder Sachin Tendulkar needed 431 innings to get there.
This was his 10th century against Sri Lanka, making him the first man to score that many tons against a single team in ODIs.