Sunday, 12 May 2013
A typical modern-day cricketer, Virat Kohli plays his game aggressively, bares his emotions loudly in public, yet retains the element of maturity that forms an integral part of every good and great player. Anil Kumble said he had thought hard before calling Kohli the best under-22 player in international cricket - that would rate as perhaps the best compliments he has received. It is also proof of Kohli's transformation as a player.
Kohli himself readily admitted to committing mistakes and walking the wrong path in the immediate aftermath of becoming only the second India captain to win the Under-19 World Cup in 2008. Monikers such as brash, arrogant were stuck on him as Kohli struggled to balance his career and the adulation that came with success. But some introspection and the expert guidance from the Indian team's seniors allowed Kohli to bounce back.
Today he is recognised for his growing maturity, and, more importantly, for his superb skills with bat in hand. Even in the presence, or absence, of his other prolific partners, Kohli has become one of the most dependable batsmen in the Indian middle order. His defensive technique is organised, he is an accomplished strokeplayer all round the wicket - his timing on the legside is especially silken - and he relishes performing when the pressure is on. He was an important presence during India's World Cup triumph, where he struck a vital century in the tournament opener and then played his hand in the summit clash with a patient 35 which formed a crucial part of the third-wicket partnership with Gautam Gambhir that allowed India to recover from the early loss of the openers. Then came the tour to Australia later that year, when he truly proved he belonged at the highest levels in both forms of the game. On a tour in which India's senior batsmen struggled throughout, Kohli stood out, scoring India's only Test hundred - a mature, composed innings in Adelaide. And with India almost out of the CB Series, Kohli uncorked his best with an astonishing 86-ball unbeaten 133 to help India chase down 321 in under 40 overs. Much was expected of him when he occupied the spot left vacant by VVS Laxman before India's home season in 2012. He got off to a bright start, hitting a century and two fifties against New Zealand.
His gung-ho attitude, his youthful charm and his aggression have also made him the mascot of his IPL team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Kohli has repaid the franchise by helping Bangalore reach the finals of the 2009 and 2011 IPL seasons and then almost single-handedly taking them to the title clash in the 2011 Champions League Twenty20. His fantastic fielding, and the ability to assess situations and seize the moments make Kohli one of the most exciting young talents to watch out for in the international circuit.