Happy Birthday Virat Kohli: The flagbearer of Indian cricket

New Delhi: “Virat Kohli is the most important man in Indian cricket.” These were the words from one of India’s most successful captains of all times, Sourav Ganguly, after he became the President of BCCI last month.

Nicknamed ‘chiku’, Kohli is one of the most decorated players in world cricket at the moment. The India skipper, who turned 31 on Tuesday, has crushed almost all the records which were once thought to be unachievable.

The right-handed batsman from Delhi, who made his international debut in 2008 after leading the India U-19 team to World Cup glory, is one of the most followed and admired sportsperson at the moment across the globe.

Kohli’s journey as a cricketer has been something which has inspired millions of youngsters to take up the sport. Be it his fitness, hunger, passion or love for cricket, his commitment and dedication towards the game has been praised by the legends of the game.

However, Kohli’s development into an icon is not a one-day wonder story. It’s been a result of years of hard work, dedication and sacrifices.

Over the years, Kohli has not only matured as a cricketer but also as a human being. Just as people take time to develop a taste for chiku or Sapodilla, similar has been the case with Kohli where it has taken people time to admire the cricketer who is now counted among the modern-day greats.

Back in 2008 when Kohli broke into the international scene, he gave the impression of being an immensely talented but temperamental kid who never shied away from verbal spats and taking on the opposition.

Whenever he reached a milestone, it was but sure that fans would see some of the choicest expletives coming out of his mouth. His childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma would often put that to “wearing his heart on his sleeves”. The coach would even go on to say that Kohli was more in the Ganguly mode than M.S. Dhoni one.

While his predecessors like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman preferred talking with the bat, here was this guy who never took a back seat whenever any member of the opposition crossed the line and would rather come out with more intense reaction, thus provoking the person concerned.

Thanks to his actions, the Aussies termed him a “spoilt brat” – this was the culmination of numerous events that unfolded during India’s 2014 tour of Australia. While he was still scoring runs, more often than not, Kohli was involved in controversies and was criticised by many in the cricket fraternity.

Not to forget the famous Sydney Test where after being sledged by the crowd, Kohli was seen flipping the bird to the crowd, something which he later said he regretted doing.

However, Kohli believed back then that these verbal tiffs and aggressive confrontations helped him to come out with his A-game and do wonders for the team.

Cut to 2019 and one will see that while the aggression and passion for the game remains the same, Kohli has now become much more relaxed. Some say it’s because of the responsibility of being a captain while other believes it’s because of his lady love and wife Anushka Sharma.

Besides all the accolades that he has achieved across formats in his stellar career so far and what he will be achieving in the future, one of the things which stands out for many is his championeering for Test cricket.

Kohli is a firm believer that Test cricket should remain at the top and that’s why time and again, he has been asking the teams to be more competitive in red-ball cricket.

Even recently when India thrashed South Africa in the three-Test series, Kohli was unhappy with the footfall across the stadiums and called for five “strong Test centres” across the country.

However, what fans would want from Kohli is to again make India champions in limited-overs format by winning the ICC World T20 and 50-over World Cup.

By Aakash Kumar