Aggressive. Fearless. Self-Belief. Positive. A man who has completely swept the world off its feet. A man who has taken the burden of the dreams of the country of a billion people. Virat Kohli was a name heard by many around Indian Cricket long before he even made his international debut. He had done something that very few can even muster the courage to do.
It was a Ranji Trophy match in 2006 between Delhi and Karnataka. Karnataka had posted a huge 446 in their first innings. By the end of Day 2, Delhi had stumbled on to 103/5 with Virat Kohli and wicket-keeper/batsman Puneet Bisht taking Delhi to stumps. That night, Kohli world turned upside down. His father passed away. Kohli faced an awful choice: whether to mourn his father or to go and finish his innings. The news of Kohli’s father passing away had already travelled across the Delhi dressing room. The next batsman in was asked to pad up as he was informed that Kohli won’t come out to bat.
But to everyone’s shock, the 18-year-old arrived in the dressing room with his full cricketing gear. He chose to go in and bat. He batting for 281 minutes, facing 238 balls. He was dismissed for 90, but not before putting Delhi just 36 runs behind the follow-on. He saw the replays of his dismissal and straight away left to attend the funeral. From 14/4, Delhi had managed to save the game and the man who lost his father last night was responsible for Delhi’s turnaround.
He was destined for great things. Fast forward to 2008. Malaysia. The Under-19 Cricket World Cup. Kohli led the young Indian contingent to be crowned world champions. It was his aggressive and positive attitude which would be the hallmark of how the Indians played in that tournament. He did not do special things. He did not wave magic wands. He did not use spells. He just played the way he knew best: on the front foot. He believed in each of his teammates and it was no surprise how everyone responded under Kohli’s leadership.
Virat Kohli was to dominate the international scene. Everyone knew it. Modest when asked about his abilities and his comparisons to the legend Sachin Tendulkar, never missing a practice session, using his bat to speak for him, Virat Kohli has just found the perfect tune for his career.
His attitude is what catches the eye. Every international cricketer has potential and skill. It’s Kohli’s attitude which separates him from the rest. An attitude mistaken for a brash individuality. He is a man who believes immensely in himself, likes to punch above his weight, wants to work in a high pressure environment, play cricket to win.
Now he is the captain of India across all formats and he has taken the baton from arguably India’s greatest ever captain, MS Dhoni. He has already shown the brand of cricket his team will play under him in the matches he has taken charge of in his short spell as Test captain. The best example will always be the Adelaide Test in 2014, when his side almost chased 400 on the final day.
His teams will never surrender, they will fight with every thing they have, will play with belief in themselves and their teammates because Virat Kohli is himself a similar kind of man. He will not fail to put his print on Indian Cricket. He will be remembered for not the runs and records he eventually gets, but for the attitude with which he will lead Indian Cricket in his tenure.
Let’s fasten our search belts: the Virat Kohli era is underway.