Rise of Virat Kohli
Author – Amrita K
(Reading time ~ 3 mins)
Kohli was averaging 106 in the last 5 chases in T20’s before this match. And today, after an injured Yuvraj laboured to 21 and was dismissed by Faulkner in the 14th over in this Ind vs Aus World T20 encounter, it was over to captain (Dhoni) and vice-captain. With 39 required off 18 deliveries, it seemed like a hairy end approaching. The next 13 balls read 4 4 6 2 1 2 0 4 4 4 0 4 4. Dhoni played only 2 of these and scored 6 including the winning boundary. Kohli sunk to the ground as the ball crossed the boundary – a departure from the usual punch in the air and raised bat celebration – testifying how this chase had tested his temperament, still he managed to come out on top.
The youngest among three siblings, Kohli was born in Delhi and had a passion for cricket from an age of just three. He would often play gully cricket and it was then that the neighbours suggested that Kohli should get professional training. It was around this time, in the year 1998 that West Delhi Cricket Academy was formed and Kohli was among one of the first students there. Kohli was not only good in cricket, he was an excellent student and is admired by his teachers.
Kohli started his formal cricketing career with the Delhi under 15 teams in October 2002 for the Polly Umrigar Trophy. He scored 72 runs with an average of 34.40 and was the highest run getter for his team. Next year, he became the captain of the team for the same trophy and scored a whopping 390 runs in 5 innings. The Delhi under 15 teams saw a number of wins under his leadership.
Kohli was chosen in the India under 19 team in the year 2006 for the tour of England. He performed well with the Indians went on to win the series.
In the same year, Kohli made his debut in first-class cricket for Delhi and scored 10 in his debut innings. It was during this time that his father died of brain stroke. Kohli’s commitment towards cricket and his professionalism superseded his personal tragedy. He decided to play for his team against Karnataka a day after his father’s demise. Kohli then went on to play the T-20 format for the Delhi team which earned him recognition and soon a place in the Royal Challengers Bangalore team for $30,000 on a youth contract.
In 2008, Kohli was taken in the Indian Cricket ODI team for the tour of Srilanka and the Champions Trophy to Pakistan. He scored his first fifty in the fourth match, at an age of 19. Kohli was taken as a replacement for an injured Shikhar Dhawan for the unofficial test tour to Australia where he batted once and scored 49. In 2008, during India’s England tour, although Kohli was a part of the team, he did not get a chance to play in the team due to the presence of Tendulkar and Sehwag. He was also selected in the four-team Emerging Players Tournament in Australia in 2009 where his performance impressed the world.
Kohli started to be taken in most of the series that India played around this time but was taken more as a replacement of injured players rather than being taken as a permanent and indispensable player. The feat with IPL, however, continued where Kohli continued to play exceptionally well and earn accolades.
In 2010, since Tendulkar was rested from the team, Kohli found a chance to play in all the 5 matches of the tri-nation ODI tournament in Bangladesh. In the match against Bangladesh, when India while chasing 297 was struggling at 51/3, Kohli scored 91 to help India win the match. Kohli played exceptionally well becoming the highest runner in the series and became the third batsman in the world to score two ODI centuries before their 22nd birthday, the first two being Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina. He was praised for his outstanding performance, especially by the Indian captain M.S. Dhoni.
Kohli was named as the vice-captain in the tri-series against Srilanka and Zimbabwe 2010 itself and there was no looking back. He became the fastest Indian batsman to reach 1000 runs in ODI cricket. Although he struggled with his form sometimes, but his perseverance earned him a permanent spot in the Indian team. He played in the International World Cup and was one of the main players who steered India to victory after 28 years.
Kohli however, earned the tag of an ODI player due to his high run rates and was not thought to be a Test player by the experts of cricket. He proved everybody wrong when he made 132 in the test tour of Australia, 2011. With his consistent performances and aggressive style, he was chosen unanimously as the captain for tests when Dhoni retired from the 5 day format in the 2014/15 series against Australia.
Kohli started a series of records with being the third batsman in the world scoring 1000 ODI runs before turning 22. In 2013, Kohli became the captain of the Indian cricket team for the triangular series in West Indies after Dhoni was injured and found unfit to play. In the second match of the tournament, Kohli scored his first hundred as a captain scoring 102 off 83 balls. In the seven-match ODI series against Australia, Kohli hit the third fastest ODI century, crossing the 100 run mark in 61 balls. In the two-match Test series against West Indies, which is memorable as the last Test series of Tendulkar, Kohli equaled Viv Richard’s record of being the fastest batsman to get 5000 runs in ODI.
Virat Kohli has attributed his success to his coach Rajkumar Sharma and the guidance he received from former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi. Such an unbelievable feat of success has not been able to sweep Kohli off the grounds. He remains a very humble person, a true role model for youths of India. Recently, he has been rated 8th in ESPN’s top 10 most popular sportsmen in the world being preceded by sportsmen like Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Roger Federer etc. And this is where he belongs.
Image Courtesy – dwarkaparichay, Indianexpress, cricketmauj