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‘Freak’ Kohli has changed Indian cricket: McCullum

Melbourne: Describing Virat Kohli as a ‘freak’, former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum believes the Indian Test captain has changed the game of his country by taking it to the new level through his professionalism and fitness.

“If we look at Indian cricket over a period of time, they’ve always been immensely talented, but just with the high intensity he operates at on a consistent basis, he’s taken that to a new level through his professionalism and his fitness,” cricket.com.au quoted McCullum as saying.

McCullum’s comments came after Kohli inspired India to the ongoing five-match Test series win 3-0 over England with one game to spare following their massive win by an innings and 36 runs in the fourth match in Mumbai.

The 35-year-old, who is in Brisbane to captain the Heat in the upcoming Big Bash League (BBL), insisted that Kohli is setting the benchmark for the cricketers by performing extremely well in all three formats.

“If you’re looking for one name on a score-sheet anywhere in the world to play in all sorts of conditions, gee it’d be pretty hard to go past Virat Kohli I’d say. He’s a freak. You look at his impact on one-day cricket, Test cricket, T20 cricket – all around the world, different conditions. And it’s just effortless as well,” McCullum said.

The former New Zealand skipper said that Kohli is a pioneer of the Indian cricket, who is inspiring his countrymen to prepare and perform to similar levels in the process.

“He’s also changed the game a little bit with his impact on Indian cricket already . (through) his levels of fitness. And I think you’ve seen a whole raft of cricketers since he’s come on as captain as well really take that in their stride, and the IPL has been a catalyst for that as well,” he added.

McCullum, who earned a reputation as one of cricket’s finest sportsmen in the twilight years of his time in charge of the Black Caps, further went on to say that the 28-year-old Indian is an ‘out-and-out’ superstar who has found the balance between fierce competitiveness and outright insolence.

“He’s an out-and-out superstar and he plays the game in the right way – he plays it hard on the field but he never really crosses the line I don’t think, unless challenged in a different way,” he said. But he’s an absolute superstar and I think the game is lucky to have him,” the former New Zealand skipper said while praising Kohli.

Kohli has been the standout batsman of 2016, notching more than 1,000 runs in Test cricket and bringing the total for his career to more than 4,000 runs.

Kohli, who was declared ‘Man of the Match’ in the Mumbai Test, smashed a brilliant 235-run knock to become the first Indian skipper to score three double-tons in a year. It was his first double century in Tests against England. He reached the milestone in 302 balls with 23 fours.

The victory was also Kohli’s 13th win as Test captain putting him just behind current limited-overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and former captains Sourav Ganguly and Mohammad Azharuddin.

ANI