It took Virat Kohli nearly 4 years after his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in August 2008 before he could find a place in India’s test team. He was drafted for the ODI side after he led India’s under-19 team to victory in 2008 U-19 World Cup at Malaysia. His aggressive approach and consistently good batting performance drew instant recognition and he was chosen for the senior side that toured Sri Lanka. However, Kohli was thrust into the opener’s slot as both Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar abstained due to injuries. India’s victory in that series had Kohli’s stamp in second and fourth ODI’s, where he played crucial roles after India had lost early wickets. After the ODI series with Sri Lanka, Kohli had a long wait before he could become a full-time member of India’s ODI team. But once that happened, Kohli showed his true mettle and now has 23 centuries and 34 fifties in ODIs. Kohli also has 9 fifties in T20s with the highest score of 78 not out against Pakistan in September 2012 in World T20 at Colombo. Kohli was part of the World-Cup winning India ODI side in 2011 and began with a century in his first match. That was his fifth ODI hundred but he was still not regarded as a test-level cricketer. Kohli’s Test debut at Kingston in June 2011 for series against the West Indies was unremarkable. But in four years since then, there has been a dramatic transformation and Virat Kohli has firmly established himself as one of the top-ranked ICC players in the world in all playing formats.
The prodigal Virat Kohli showed his cricket mastery from a young age. As a 14-year old, Kohli first played for Delhi U-15 team in 2002-03 Polly Umrigar Trophy and became the captain next season. With a consistent performance, Kohli graduated to Delhi’s U-17 team for Vijay Merchant Trophy, where he scored 470 runs with two centuries and two fifties. In 2006, he represented the U-19 India team for the English tour, where India won both the ODI and the Test Series. At age 18, Kohli made his debut for Delhi in a Ranji Trophy match against Tamil Nadu in November 2006 but his best innings came against Karnataka one month later, when he batted in the second innings after hearing that his father had passed away. The young Kohli went to his father’s funeral straight from the ground and underwent a great transformation overnight. Playing more seriously than ever before in that season, Kohli scored 257 runs from 6 matches. He played for India against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh U-19 sides in July- August 2007 before being made the captain of India for the U-19 World Cup at Malaysia during February–March 2008. India’s U-19 World Cup victory under Kohli, resulted in the young man joining the senior side for a tour to Sri Lanka for the ODI series in August 2008. India won the series 3-2 and Kohli made his presence felt. In October 2008, Kohli was included in the Indian Board President’s XI for a 4-day game with Australia and scored 105 and 16 not out against a side that had its bowling commanded by the likes of Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson.
While Kohli rose through the ranks in ODI games during 2008-2011, he wasn’t included in India’s test team until June 2011. Earlier in 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, Kohli’s third-wicket partnership of 83 with Gautam Gambhir in the final against Sri Lanka proved to the turning point for India in their 275-run victory chase. India went on to win the World Cup by beating Sri Lanka to record their second success after 1983, when Kapil Dev’s team had brought the coveted trophy from Lords. When India toured the West Indies in June–July 2011, Kohli was included in the test side since Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir had not recovered from injuries. Kohli scored 4, 15 in his test debut at Kingston’s first test and in five innings scored a total of 76 runs. He was dropped from the test squad for India’s tour of England in July-August 2011 but Yuvraj Singh’s injury opened a spot and Kohli was given his second chance. However, Kohli could not be included in the playing eleven for any of the matches. When England toured India in October 2011, Kohli excelled in the 5-match ODI series. Afterwards, when the test team was announced for India’s India tour of the West Indies, Kohli was included. He played only the final test, in which his first innings score of 52 ensured that India avoided the follow-on. He scored another fifty in the second innings and since then he has been a part of Indian test squad. Kohli scored his first test match hundred against Australia in the fourth and final test at Adelaide in January 2012 and that was the only century by any Indian batsman in the entire series.
With Kohli’s continued good performance in ODIs, he also established himself in the tests. In 2012, he scored two more centuries; one against New Zealand in the second test at Bangalore in August and later in December in the fourth test against England at Nagpur. He scored 2 more centuries in 2013 but 2014 was the best year for Kohli as he notched up 4 centuries, all of which came away from home and 3 of them were scored against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. These centuries were part of Kohli’s 5 test hundreds scored in a period of less than one month between December 11, 2014 and January 8, 2015. When Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his retirement, Virat Kohli was the unanimous choice as the full-time India skipper. He led India to their first overseas series win in Sri Lanka in August 2015 and scored his 11th test match century. Under Kohli, India have recently scored a 3-0 series win in the home series against South Africa. As of now, Virat Kohli is on a roll and looks unstoppable.
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