Ever since Virat Kohli came onto the international stage, the cricketing world has experienced the breaking of records every year, and it’s the same man every time.
Just like every kid in India, Kohli also picked his bat with Sachin Tendulkar, the little master as his inspiration. Little did he know at that time that he will be going after the records of the very person he reveres and that he may well end up being the Sachin of the millennial generation, or better yet, maybe even surpass Tendulkar’s record.
According to many, Sachin is the greatest of all time, even better than Bradman. Their claim stands as probably no one has ever seen Bradman play live. Also, the era in which Sachin made his name was the era of quick tearaway fast bowlers with each team boasting at least one bowler who could consistently clock it up to 150 km/h.
As a sixteen-year-old kid playing against the likes of Wasim and Waqar even without a helmet, and then going on to finish the game with most runs, both in tests and ODIs, and the first player to score 100 international centuries, it’s only natural that a lot of spectators worship him.
To Indians, he was a demi-God. The world too celebrated his class.
But after Azharuddin’s sacking as India’s captain, the young Sachin was made captain and fans hoped it to be a fresh start. However, this wasn’t the case. His win percentage as captain is 32% in ODI’s and 16% in tests which is frankly very modest as compared to Ganguly’s 51% and 43%, respectively. From these stats, one can simply conclude that Tendulkar was never a great captain.
When King Kohli made his debut, he had already captained his side to the U-19 World Cup. In his debut series against Sri Lanka, he scored 159 runs at an average of 32 which included 1 half century. Although he didn’t score many runs, his technique and game awareness was lauded by pundits. Kohli took off from there and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kohli gradually converted himself into a more composed and mature middle-order batsman but his runs couldn’t seem to catch a break. With 63 international centuries in his stellar career, it’s just a matter of time till he crosses Sachin in record books.
What makes his case even more stronger is the fact that Sachin’s centuries rarely came in winning causes. On the contrary, Kohli is undoubtedly the best chaser the sport of cricket has seen, evident by the fact that over 95% of his centuries have come in matches which India ultimately went on to win.
Many players get sloppy in their batting when made captain while others flourish. Kohli can easily be listed under the latter. Since his debut, he has never averaged below 50 in ODI’s. His win percentage as ODI and Test captain is already better than all Indian captains to date and he is well on his way to becoming the most successful Asian captain overseas.
He gets criticized for playing more home test series and winning them. But with the ongoing away series against Australia, India has looked more dangerous and complete than the home side. And considering the fact that India won away matches in Johannesburg and Nottingham this year, the notion of Kohli being a flat track bully goes away pretty quickly too.
The downside of being the best player in the world is that you get criticized for even sneezing loudly. Too arrogant, too expressive, too loud are many things he is called but none of it has affected his performance on the field, be it as a player or as a captain.
In fact, his drive to excel has to be the core reason why he has been so successful. He, himself has been nourished by the IPL system but now he is the benchmark, even for foreign players. He seems to be in a competition with himself. The trickledown effect is working fine with this Indian side and with the World cup approaching, India will be going as favorites.
Lady luck has been kind on Kohli too. Ever since getting involved with Bollywood actress, Anushka Sharma, Kohli’s game has reached a whole other level.
While he was criticized initially for taking Anushka with him on cricket tours, Kohli himself kept quiet and let his bat do the talking. In fact, he has even mentioned in various interviews that Anushka Sharma has brought out the other side of his personality which he used to lack before his marriage. And this might’ve turned into an overused cliché but if there is one woman who we can credit for Kohli’s remarkable run of late, that is indeed Anushka Sharma.
To conclude, Kohli has proved with the time that he is on his way to becoming the undisputed king of cricket. To live in this modern era of technological inventions and yet not have a single hater is almost unheard of. But Kohli is defying critics both on and off the field and he’s slowly but surely turned his haters into fans.
Also, this can be said with certainty that up-and-coming players see themselves and aspire to become the next Virat instead of Sachin. With his current form and fitness, one can hope he plays on for at least another ten years. But one thing’s for sure, whenever he decides to hang up his boots, the game of cricket will be poorer without him. From the streets of Delhi to becoming the best in the world, the journey has been incredible and we’ve been privileged to watch it live!