Former Australian captain Michael Clarke has put Virat Kohli above all stalwarts of ODI cricket, calling him the “greatest batsman ever” in the format.
Kohli, the world’s top-ranked batter in Tests and ODIs, led India in their historic tour of Australia, wherein they won the Test and ODI series and drew the T20I series.
Kohli led India to their first-ever Test series win Down Under and added to his already astonishing collection of international hundreds, which, as of now, stands at 64.
“To me, Virat Kohli is the greatest batsman to have ever played one-day cricket. I have no doubts after seeing what he has achieved for India,” said Clarke.
Kohli has 10,385 runs in 219 ODIs at an astounding average of 59 plus, including 39 hundreds.
“You have to respect Virat’s passion to win games for his country. Yes, he has aggression but no one can question his commitment, how much he has achieved,” Clarke said.
Dhoni can bat at any position
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s dip in scoring rate of late doesn’t bother Clarke.
“MS knows how to react to any given situation. He has played 300 plus ODIs so he knows how to go about his job,” Clarke said.
Dhoni steered India to a series clinching win in Melbourne on Friday with an unbeaten 87 off 114 balls.
India chased down Australia’s 230 with four balls to spare. Dhoni, Clarke said, would have batted differently if the target was bigger.
“Look at his approach in the second game in Adelaide and the third game in Melbourne. It was different,” Clarke said.
Dhoni, he added, can bat at any position in the World Cup in England. “He is good enough to bat at any position and I believe Virat will use him accordingly.”
‘Pandya will be crucial for World Cup’
Clarke said that Hardik Pandya, who’s serving a suspension, would play an important role for India at the World Cup.
“A talented player like Hardik is very necessary for the balance of the side. He can win games alone with his batting and I am confident he will be in that World Cup squad,” said Clarke.
Pandya and KL Rahul were suspended for their controversial remarks in Koffee With Karan, a TV show.
Asked if India are favourites to win the World Cup, Clarke said, “Certainly one of the favourites with the kind of bowling talent India have at the moment. The batting was always strong and they also have wonderful young spinners.”
“Jasprit Bumrah is a skillful bowler who is improving every day. He continues to get better with his seam, swing, and pace. He is the best death bowler in ODI cricket at the moment,” said Clarke.
Clarke picked England and Australia, apart from India, as the favourites for the World Cup.
“England is a very good ODI side and will be hard to beat at home. Also, I would like Australia to be in the mix. Australia will get better when the frontline pacers including Nathan Coulter Nile come back,” explained Clarke.
Talking about Australian cricket, Clarke was hopeful that things will change for the better.
“There is plenty of talent in Australian cricket. We have good young players playing Sheffield Shield. They still believe Test cricket is the pinnacle.”
“A lot of hard work is needed and good leadership, which can select the right guys, back them and give them time to perform,” he said.