Amazing to see Virat Kohli join the ranks of Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar: Sanjay Manjrekar

Virat Kohli has already earned a place among India’s list of batting greats, feels the former India opener turned TV commentator Sanjay Manjrekar.

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Speaking during a panel debate at Monday’s MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture with ICC CEO David Richardson, England opener Jason Roy and former Hampshire captain turned TV commentator Mark Nicholas, Manjrekar singled out Kohli’s self-confidence and fitness as hallmarks of a very unique cricketer.

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“Even among Indian greats now, he’s finding a special place. It’s amazing,” said the 53-year-old, who played 37 Tests and 74 ODIs. “You talk about dirty Varanasi waters, but Indian waters keep producing these kind of phenomenal batting talents, year after year, generation after generation.

“Sunil Gavaskar quit in 1987. We had Tendulkar two years later, in 1989. And as he was winding up his long career, here comes Virat Kohli.”

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Kohli, who will turn 30 in November, was over the weekend confirmed as the No 1 batsman in the ICC Test batting rankings, the first time an Indian has achieved that since Tendulkar in 2010. At Edgbaston, he scored 200 as compared to 214 runs managed between his 10 team-mates, and the first-innings 149 marked his first Test century in England after a dismal 134 runs in five matches back in 2014.

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Kohli’s drive, felt Manjrekar, was shaping to be his career-defining trait.

“Where I find him different from other batting greats is his self-belief, his self-confidence. I remember he averaged 13 (13.4) the last time he was year in England. The very next Test match was in Adelaide, and he walked out like he was king of Adelaide,” he said. “His self-confidence doesn’t dip, it takes a lot for that to take a beating. That makes him special. The other thing is his fitness. I think he’s the fittest, greatest batsman.”