Teams Played For
India, Delhi, India Red, India U19, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Board Presidents XI, North Zone, Indians, India A
A modern legend of the game, Virat Kohli is definitely the most versatile batsman currently and by the time he brings the curtain down on his career, Kohli might well become the greatest ever batsman to have graced the game. Despite emerging as a child prodigy who led India to a U 19 World Cup win back in 2008. Kohli wasn’t quite gifted like his idol Sachin Tendulkar. However, his hardwork and dedication helped him achieve what he has today.
Emerging as a chubby and flamboyant youngster, Kohli was often touted as an arrogant young kid. He was in a totally different mould unlike the culture in the Indian cricket team before. He was aggressive and even in his early days, he never backed away from indulging himself in needling the oppositions. Just like Rahul Dravid told in an interview, “Needling the opposition gets the best out of him but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.”
Born in 1988 in Delhi to a Punjabi family, Kohli was interested in cricket from a very early age. He used to hold a cricket bat as a 3-year kid and would ask his father to bowl at him. Kohli’s father admitted him to an academy where he trained under the watchful guidance of Rajkumar Sharma. Recalling Kohli’s early days, Rajkumar Sharma said that Kohli oozed class from an early age.
“He oozed talent. It was so difficult to keep him quiet. He was a natural in whatever he did and I was most impressed with his attitude. He was ready to bat at any spot, and I had to literally push him home after the training sessions. He just wouldn’t leave,” Rajkumar Sharma had said in an interview.
Kohli went on to play for the Delhi U 15 team in October 2002 and was part of the 2002-03 Polly Umrigar Trophy. He finished as the leading run-getter for his team and was appointed as the captain in the next season. He smashed 390 runs in just 5 matches including two centuries and two half-centuries. He kept churning out runs on a consistent basis and in the 2003-04 Vijay Merchant Trophy, Kohli was at his staggering best scoring 470 runs in just 4 matches.
Following his consistent run, Kohli was awarded a place in the India U 19 squad for the tour of England in July 2006. India won the series and Kohli emerged as a promising talent and earned accolades from the then Indian manager Lalchand Rajput. The same year Kohli made his first-class debut for Delhi against Tamil Nadu in November. A month later, Kohli had to deal with a big personal loss after the death of his father but he decided to play a day after his father’s death and went onto score a match-saving 90 against Karnataka.
In February March 2008, Kohli was appointed as the skipper of the Indian U 19 team for the 2008 World Cup. Kohli not only impressed with the bat led India to a sensational victory. Batting at No 3, Kohli scored 235 runs in 6 matches at an average of 47 which included a century against West Indies. Following his heroics in the junior World Cup, Kohli bagged an IPL contract with the Royal Challengers Bangalore and was bought at his base price.
He was soon drafted into the senior Indian side when he was included in the squad for the ODI series in Sri Lanka. Regular openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag had sustained injuries and Kohli played as a makeshift opener scoring a solitary fifty in his 5 outings. The youngster took some time to settle himself in a side loaded with superstars.
He smashed his maiden international century in 2009 in an ODI against Sri Lanka in Kolkata. Along with Gautam Gambhir, Kohli shared a sensational stand and helped India win the match from a precarious situation. Gambhir showed a great gesture by awarding his Man of the Match Award to Kohli.
Kohli made his World Cup debut in 2011 and joined an elite list of cricketers with a hundred on World Cup debut in the opener against Bangladesh. Two years after making his ODI debut, Kohli was finally handed over the Test debut against the Caribbeans in 2011. In the next series in Australia, Kohli’s technique was questioned after two disappointing outings in the first two games. However the skipper MS Dhoni persisted with him and the result was there for everyone to see in the next two matches. He smashed 75 and 44 in the next Test in Perth and followed it up with a maiden Test century in Adelaide when most of the other experienced batsmen failed.
Kohli’s breakthrough ODI knock came in 2012 when he thrashed the Sri Lankan bowlers all around the park in Hobart and helped India chase down a stiff target of 321 in just the 38th over. Lasith Malinga received some special treatment from Kohli as he was belted for 24 runs in an over. That knock turned out to be a career-changing knock for Kohli as he started taking giant strides as a batsman especially in the limited-overs.
Over the next few years, Kohli kept climbing on the ladder and emerged as one of the greatest young cricketers. However, there were a few chinks in his armour especially when it came to a technique that troubled him quite a bit in 2014. He was found wanting against the quality English pace attack in the tour of 2014. He scored just 134 runs in 10 innings and had a forgettable outing. He went back and focused on his technique even taking some advice from his idol Sachin Tendulkar and in 2018 he came to England as a totally changed batsman finishing as the leading run-getter by a country mile among both the teams.
He was part of the 2015 World Cup squad and scored a century in the opening encounter against Pakistan. He had a slump in the form as the tournament progressed as India was eliminated after losing the semi-final against Australia. By then, Kohli had already established himself as arguably the greatest ODI batsman and in 2016, Kohli was very close to taking India to a title win the 2016 T20 World Cup. However, the dreams were shattered after some shoddy batting from the middle order.
Following the retirement of MS Dhoni, Kohli was handed over the full-time captaincy of the Test side in 2015 and he led India to their first series win in Sri Lanka after 22 years. After losing the opening Test, India staged a dramatic comeback and registered a 2-1 series win. He then led India to a 3-0 series win against South Africa on rank turners but his personal form was far from impressive.
Over the years, Kohli has evolved as a “chase master” in limited-overs cricket and his exploits especially in 50 overs cricket has simply gone on to a different level. However, the one thing which is missing from his armor is a big knock in the World Cup knockouts. With an ODI average touching 60, Kohli has already smashed 43 ODI centuries and is expected to break Tendulkar’s century tally in the near future.
Despite starting off his Test career on a rather sedate note, Kohli has also taken his Test record to a different level. In 2017, Kohli became the first batsman in Test cricket history to smash 4 double hundreds in 4 consecutive Test series. He had a sensational time with the bat in Australia back in 2014 when he accumulated 692 runs in 4 matches which included 4 centuries. Despite his exceptional record in all formats, Kohli continues to have some problems with the moving ball.
Kohli continues to be part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise and is currently leading them in the ongoing IPL. He took batting to a whole new level in the 2016 IPL when he almost smashed 1000 season runs with 4 centuries. Kohli took his side to the final where they lost against SRH narrowly. His captaincy in the tournament has been questioned time and again as RCB’s performance hasn’t been great especially in the last few years. However, they have started off quite brilliantly this season and it could well turn out to be their breakthrough season.