Passionate – No word describes VIRAT KOHLI. His passion for cricket has made him one of the best batsmen in the world across formats and has also helped him grow into a ruthless captain. It’s also passion that defines Kohli’s emotional, effervescent and at times firecracker character. He does not hold back and that remains his strength.
Kohli approaches 30 as the most relentless and popular performer in the sport. He is already a World Cup winner (2011), the Player of the tournament at a World T20 (2014) and has led India to record eight consecutive Test series wins. Purely as a batsman he is already close to the summit: he had more ODI hundreds (34) than anyone apart from Sachin Tendulkar (49), and averages 50 or better in all three formats i.e Test matches, ODIs and T20. He is the only batsman to have achieved this feat.
He is widely considered to be one of the four great batsmen of his era, the others being Australia’s Steven Smith, England’s Joe Root and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson.
In 2012, four years after his India debut, Kohli forced the cricket world’s attention upon himself. In the fourth and final Test of a dismal Australia tour for India, who were already 3-0 down, Kohli came to the fore with a composed 116 in Adelaide. It was his maiden Test hundred, and the only century by an Indian batsman on that tour. Later, in the ODI triangular that followed, he uncorked an astonishing, unbeaten 86-ball 133 to help India chase down 321 in 36.4 overs against Sri Lanka. Soon after, he made an ODI career-best 183 against Pakistan in a chase of 331.
When comes to chasing there is none better than Virat or Chitah. There is no better batsman than Kohli in chases: he says targets allow him to think clearly and pace his innings. He is unique in that he allies this clarity of thought with a classical batting technique and a supremely confident mindset. A stable head, sure footwork and firm wrists are part of Kohli’s arsenal, which helps him play an array of audacious shots.
The biggest turning point – and probably the most pivotal moment – of Kohli’s career arrived on December 30, 2014, when MS Dhoni announced his unexpected retirement from Tests following the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. Kohli could not believe that Dhoni would no longer wear whites, and that he would now lead India. The second thought made him cry. “If you told me when I started playing cricket that at 26 I will be Test captain of India… no chance,” is how he later described his feelings.
“A brat, arrogant and casual” was how Kohli described himself in 2008, when he then became the second India captain to lift the Under-19 World Cup. He excelled in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore, which put him on the world map and made sponsors line up at his doorstep, making him a brand even before he had established himself in international cricket. But as he steadily grew to become India’s most dependable batsman, and not just a brand, Kohli realized he needed to rid of old, bad habits. He lost weight, gained focus and became a relentless force, supremely fit and quick across the turf, and perhaps the hungriest batsman in the world when it comes to converting ones into twos.
Kohli has played with men who presented him awards when he was a chubby-faced schoolboy, and some of the same men have ended up playing under his captaincy. Under Kohli, India have ascended to the No. 1 Test ranking and held onto it with an iron grip while also reaching the joint top position in ODIs. He has set his sights quite a bit higher, though: his quest is to create a legacy like the ones established by all-conquering captains like Clive Lloyd and Steve Waugh.