Seven years ago, 18-year old Virat Kohli made his Ranji Trophy debut for Delhi in December 2006. At draw of stumps on the second day, Kohli was unbeaten at 40 and waited for the morning. Kohli’s father died that night and his death shattered Kohli. While he faced a dilemma, his family advised him to continue regardless of the trauma and agony. With his father’s dead body lying in wait, Kohli went on to score 90, before falling to a controversial umpiring decision. From Kotla, Kohli went straight for his father’s funeral. The sudden loss of a parent transformed the teenager into a mature adult overnight.
Kohli began taking his passion for cricket far more seriously than ever before. In 2008; he was named India’s captain for under-19 World Cup, which India won. Kohli had scores of; 40, 25, 100, 8, 43 and 19. He also performed well as a bowler, but more importantly, his tactical leadership was worthy of all-round praise.
In 2008, the inaugural IPL tournament was organized. The talented Virat Kohli was contracted by Royal Challengers, Bangalore and since then he has been their key player. In 2013, Kohli took the reins as RCB captain, following his consistent performance every season, where his scores are; 165 in 2008; 246 in 2009, 307 in 2010, 557 in 2011, 364 in 2012 and 634 in 2013.
Kohli had a crucial role in India winning the 2009 Emerging Players Tournament in Australia. In 7 matches, Kohli scored 398 runs with 2 fifties and 2 centuries, one of which was made in the final against South Africa. Kohli’s performance in this tournament was instrumental in his selection for India’s ODI team for Sri Lankan tour. In the first match, Kohli was dismissed for 12 but scored 37 in a low-scoring second ODI, which India won. In the fourth ODI, Kohli’s 54 helped India win the series.
When Sri Lanka toured India in December 2009, Kohli played the 4th ODI, in place of the injured Yuvraj Singh. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands and scored his first ODI hundred. He toured Bangladesh a few days later to play a tri-nation ODI series. Kohli scored 91 against Bangladesh, and 71 against Sri Lanka. His second ODI hundred came against Bangladesh in the next match.
From this point onwards, Kohli became a regular player in T-20 and ODI teams. For the tri-series in Zimbabwe involving Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in June 2010, Kohli was named India’s vice-captain. In this series, Kohli became the fastest Indian to score 1000 ODI runs. On this tour, Kohli also made his T-20 debut. With Yusuf Pathan, Kohli helped India notch victory in 15th over of the first game, after Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina were dismissed.
In 2011, Kohli made his World Cup debut by scoring a century. Then he scored 59 against the West Indies and shared an 83-run partnership with Gautam Gambhir against Sri Lanka in the final. While India won the World Cup, Kohli finished with an impressive 282 runs in 9 innings.
Kohli’s test debut came on India’s tour to West Indies in June-July 2011. Though India won the series 1-0, Kohli couldn’t do much. However, he continued his good show in ODI games, when England visited India later in 2011. In 5 ODI games, Kohli aggregated 270 runs, including a century. Kohli got another chance to play in a test match, when West Indies came to India. Playing in the third test, Kohli scored fifties in both innings. He was to excel again in ODI games with West Indians after the test series. Kohli scored 243 runs in 5 matches with a century and helped India win the series 4-1.
Kohli had already scored 8 ODI hundreds, when he toured Australia in December 2011. After scoring 44 and 75 in the third test, Kohli scored his maiden test century in Adelaide’s fourth test. India lost the series 4-0, but Kohli stood out with his solid performance. In the ensuing triangular ODI series, Kohli once again showed his class with 373 runs with two fifties and a century. His century against Sri Lanka included 24 runs from a Lasith Malinga over.
Kohli was India’s vice-captain for the Asia Cup ODI in March 2012. In the fifth game against Pakistan, Kohli cracked 22 fours and a massive six to score 183 in 148 balls. Then in the home series against New Zealand, Kohli made 212 runs in the two tests, including a century and two half-centuries at an average of 106.
When Dhoni and other senior players were rested for Zimbabwe tour, Kohli led India from front. Besides winning the series 5-0, Kohli scored 197 runs in these 5 games.
Among the current breed of cricketers, Virat Kohli is the most technically sound and an utterly fearless player. With the great Sachin Tendulkar having announced his retirement, quality cricket may take a hit, but with someone like Kohli around, India’s batting skills cannot be easily discounted. We saw the proof in the second ODI against Australia at Jaipur, where India successfully chased the 360-run target. In that match Kohli, controlled the required run-rate by his 52-ball 100 and provided a meaning to the hard work done by Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
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