What could be the qualities of an ideal batsman? All those I can think of include a sound technique, a balanced head, ability to grind and score quickly as well, ability to read the match situation correctly, ability to remain unfazed by other factors, temperament, hunger for runs, thriving under pressure, having 360 degree range of shots, fitness to last the innings, ability to find gaps, to be equally equipped on both the front and the back foot to the fast as well as slow bowlers and the ability to score runs and keep scoring them consistently, specially when it matters the most. There would be numerous other qualities that you would be thinking of right now and there would be qualities which probably both you and me would not have even thought of ever, and we can rest assured that Virat Kohli would have all of them, each single one of them.
Virat Kohli is unarguably the best batsmen of this era. People would throw up names like Joe Root, Kane Williamson and AB De Villiers but none of these batsmen are as dominant across all the three formats of the game. Virat is a batsman made of dreams. He scores big in test matches (already 2 double hundreds this year), he scores big consistently in ODIs (26 hundreds already) and even more so while chasing (23 hundreds), and is a revolution in the T20 format (man of the tournament in T20 World Cups in 2014 and 2016, 4 centuries in a single IPL edition) and is one of the most electrifying fielders in the world to go with his magnetic leadership skills. He is already a modern great and a legend in making.
Virat Kohli has probably never seen the face of failure courtesy his dedication and hard work towards his game. Be it the under 15, under 17 or the under 19 teams he has always been the successful flag bearer of his team. He captained India U-19 team to the world cup win in 2008 and his personal performance also paved the way for his selection for the senior team as well.
Virat`s attitude and mental strength are often talked about but as they say there are no legends without stories. In his own words, Virat has had 2 major life changing incidents that have made him the player he is today. Shortly after Virat made his first class debut for Delhi, his father passed away. Virat did not leave the match mid way instead he scored a crucial 90 runs before being dismissed and then went to attend his father`s funeral. In a span of just a day, Virat`s maturity level as a human being and a batsman changed drastically. As often mentioned by Virat in his interviews; his seriousness about the game increased multifold after that incident as then he knew that it was his game that had to be the bread winner for him and his family. His life depended on it and we can see that even now from the way he bats. Virat made the national headlines after the U-19 world cup 2008 and was seen as the next big thing in cricket. IPL happened to start the same year and Virat was signed for the Royal Challengers of Bangalore. He witnessed so much money and glamour during that initial phase that he almost lost his way. All thanks to some inspirational guidance from his well wishers, Virat bounced back stronger. He completely changed the way he lived his life and the one and only focus was his batting. He started working really hard on his fitness and today he is by far the fittest cricketer going around in world cricket.
Virat was a part of the 2011 world cup winning team as a middle order batsmen but in an year’s time he became the backbone of the batting lineup for India. He became the world’s No.1 ranked batsman in 2013 and began to be known as the chase specialist in ODIs. He was scoring tons of runs in the ODIs but questions were being raised about his test credentials but soon Kohli silenced his critics with hundreds in Australia and South Africa and then he mastered the shortest format as well, finishing as the top scorer in T20 world cups 2014 and 2016, leading his team to finals and semi finals respectively. He reached the crescendo of T20 cricket this year when he scored 4 T20 hundreds in the 2016 edition of the IPL.
Virat is an unstoppable run machine and is racing away with all the possible batting records. To state a few achievements of his:
- Fastest century by an Indian cricketer in ODIs (in 52 balls)
- Fastest Indian to reach 1,000 runs in ODIs
- Fastest Indian and third fastest in the world to reach 4,000 runs in ODIs
- Fastest Indian and second fastest in the world to reach 5,000 runs in ODIs
- Fastest Indian and second fastest in the world to reach 6,000 runs in ODIs
- Fastest in the world to reach 7,000 runs in ODIs
- Fastest Indian and second fastest in the world to reach 10 centuries in ODIs
- Fastest Indian and second fastest in the world to reach 15 centuries in ODIs
- Fastest Indian and second fastest in the world to reach 20 centuries in ODIs
- Fastest in the world to reach 25 centuries in ODIs
- Fastest in the world to reach 1,000 runs in T20Is
- Second most number of fifty-plus scores while chasing in day/night ODIs (33 scores, only behind Tendulkar’s 34 50+ scores)
- Most ODI centuries while chasing in ODIs (16). Only Tendulkar (17) has scored more.
- Most ODI runs in 2010 by an Indian cricketer
- Most ODI runs in 2011 by any cricketer
- Most ODI runs in 2012 by an Indian cricketer
- Most ODI runs in 2013 by an Indian cricketer
- Most ODI runs in 2014 by an Indian cricketer
- Most Test runs in 2012 by an Indian cricketer
- First cricketer to score three centuries in his first three innings as Test captain
- First Indian Test captain to score a double hundred overseas.
- First Indian Test captain to score two double centuries.
Statistics apart, Virat Kohli is way beyond any numbers. He is the confidence of an Indian cricket fan that has spent his lifetime being nervous every time India was asked to chase a total. He is the voice of every Indian cricket lover that wanted to give back the overseas teams, a taste of their own medicine of bullying and sledging Indian players. He is the assurance that once Sachin was, that no match is lost when he is batting. He is the joy of every cricket lover with his aggressive yet conventional batting. And now that Virat is also the test captain of team India, he has shown what it is to lead from the front and with example.
Virat has achieved in his career of 7-8 years, what most players could not even think of in their lifetime. He is often being compared to the great Sachin Tendulkar but in my view the comparison is not fair and not justified. Sachin was an entirely different era and Virat is another era himself. The way cricket was played in Sachin`s time was very different to that of today. The conditions and the expectations were again different. To sum up this debate, I would like to state that there can be no other Sachin Tendulkar and there will be no other Virat Kohli. Infact, a few years back Sachin himself had identified Virat as the only person in the world cricket who could break his batting records in the future. Virat Kohli is not the one chasing milestones, he is a benchmark himself.
Virat Kohli is the favourite across age groups and genders. Youngsters look upto him for inspiration while the not so young adore him for the player he is and then the girls and women of our nation go gaga and drool over him for his not so cricketing qualities. He is the complete package. And most importantly, Virat Kohli has given the boasting rights to billions of Indians in India and abroad of having the best batsman in the world.
Here’s Wishing Virat a very happy birthday and an even more successful life ahead. May you keep giving us the victories and memories forever!