Who could have imagined that a boy named Virat Kohli hailing from Delhi would lead India to their second U19 World Cup trophy? And in the next few years, he would start to leave a mark on the world.
Virat was ready to step into stardom, the limelight of success when he caught the attention of the former BCCI Chief Selector Dilip Vengsarkar. Here is the moment when he knew that Virat would play for India.
“I had gone to watch the match against New Zealand. Glenn Turner was there, Greg Chappell was sitting with me. He was in charge of the Australia A team at the time.Dilip Vengsarkar
“In that match, the Kiwis had scored 240 or 250 (248/6). Virat was asked to open the innings. He scored 123* (120*, actually). I know the exact scores, I was watching every ball.”Dilip Vengsarkar
“After scoring his hundred, he did not give away his wicket, he remained unbeaten and went on to win the match for his side. That impressed me. And there I thought here is a boy who must be pushed in the Indian team because he was mentally mature. We picked him and the rest is history,”Dilip Vengsarkar
Virat Kohli’s Journey
Virat made his debut in 2008 against Sri Lanka in the ODI format. At the tender age of 19, Virat pulled off a string of consistent performances. With scores of 12, 37, 25, 54 and 31 Virat displayed his skills with a sense of maturity.
His potential to adjust in each format made him one of the most dependable batsmen in each format. Virat made his long-awaited debut in the test format against West Indies in 2011. His test career may not have started with high scoring performances. But what he offered on the pitch looked promising. In the same year, Virat also played a key role in India’s World Cup success.
Three years later Virat stepped up to fill the boots of MS Dhoni as India’s Test captain. In his captaincy debut, the young skipper smashed twin centuries at one of the most illustrated grounds in the world – the Adelaide stadium.
As we skip forward from 2014 to 2022 team India under the leadership of Virat Kohli rose to new heights. In three days’ time, Virat is going to reach another landmark as he will make his 100th appearance in the test match against Sri Lanka. After 14 years he stands against the same opponent from where he began his journey. A journey that took him to different continents and phases of life as a sportsman.
A master in the witchcraft of batting
Virat Kohli broke through the norms of test cricket and redefined them on his terms. The former Indian skipper is one of the modern-day greats. Worlds like a legend or a maestro will be an understatement to define his test career. His 100th game could take him to another landmark. Virat is just 38 runs shy of reaching 8,000 runs in test format. He will be the 8th Indian batter to reach such a feat.
Virat’s trademark is the cover drive shot. The way he executes the shot gets the whole crowd rallied up. A shot that he has mastered over time. Kohli is considered to be the perfectionist in playing cover drive shots. He has scored 1205 runs when a delivery arrives in the offside corridor. But even the perfectionist has flaws. He has been dismissed 115 times while playing a shot that operates in the offside channel. This is a double-edged sword that hurts his opponents and sometimes he ends up cutting himself up as well.
Even though it may not work for him in the present scenario, this shot is still the best weapon in his arsenal.
His other strength lies in playing shots towards deep mid-wicket. His strong and flexible wrists allow him to simply guide the ball towards the deep mid-wicket area. Any delivery that lands on his feet are likely to land near a fence within a matter of seconds.
Is Virat Kohli the best batsman of the current generation?
The debate of who is the best test batsman of the current generation seems to be never-ending. It is not an easy task to determine who is better when the likes of Root, Smith and Williamson exist in the same era.
But the factor which gives Virat an edge against these players is his ability to score runs in and away from home soil. Virat Kohli’s average at home is 63. The only player who is ahead of him is Kane Williamson. New Zealand’s skipper has an average of 65 at home.
While on the road Kohli has bagged in 4196 runs in 100 innings. The only player who is ahead of him is Joe Root. The English skipper has 4591 runs on the road. Virat’s ability to convert 50’s into 100’s is often undermined. This is due to the fact that he has been unable to score a century for the past two years. His last century came in 2019 against Bangladesh.
Yet even after this Kohli has the best conversion rate among these four as the statistics suggest.
Even though this comparison doesn’t affect the legacy which Virat Kohli has created over a decade. His 100th test match is a spectacle to watch for all those who love to see the cricket.