New Delhi: While Virat Kohli´s historic success in Australia has been greeted with jubilation in India, it has also sparked a feverish debate: is he even better than the nation´s cricket god Sachin Tendulkar?
Kohli, the world´s top-ranked batsman in all three formats of the game, on Monday led India to their first-ever Test series win in Australia, after seven decades of trying.
Already known as “King Kohli” before the tour, there are those who say the Indian captain deserves promotion.
But his Test teammates Hardik Pandya and Lokesh Rahul were mercilessly trolled on Indian social media after saying on a TV chat show that Kohli was a better batsman than Tendulkar.
The pair were blasted for being “pathetic” and “cringeworthy” by Twitter users in a mass tirade.
While Tendulkar has maintained a god-like status in the Indian public´s eye since his retirement in 2013, he never managed to guide India to a Test series win in Australia.
Kohli, 30, was born a year before Tendulkar made his India debut in 1989. He is the run machine of modern cricket with more 19,000 runs in Test, one-day and T20 games. He last year became the fastest to reach 10,000 runs in 50-over internationals — beating Tendulkar´s record.
Kohli´s biographer Vijay Lokapally said there should not be a comparison between players of different generations, but hailed Kohli´s achievements.
“As a captain he sets an example with his fitness, his batting and his leadership,” Lokapally told AFP.
“His batting is absolutely top class. He doesn´t need a certificate from anyone. And there is no better person to lead the Indian team in any format.”
He added: “As far as comparisons go, I think it´s unfair to disregard the efforts of former players like Vijay Hazare or Sunil Gavaskar and compare eras.
“Gavaskar was a star of his times, Tendulkar ruled his era and Kohli is the new generation star. So they are all champions in their own place.”
Pandya and Rahul set off hostilities with Tendulkar fans in their off-the-cuff comments on Indian television aired Sunday.
Tendulkar had been named as the best batsmen by a string of luminaries including Don Bradman, Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar, one Twitter user noted in response. “Every true cricket fan knows who is best!”