Virat Kohli has once again stolen the spotlight as he guided the hopes and aspirations of 1.3 billion Indians to yet another semi-final spot of a major cricketing tournament. At 27, the Delhi boy has unarguably become the strongest pillar of the current Indian batting line-up.
The right-handed batsman has racked up over 10,000 runs in international cricket for his country, scoring a total of 36 centuries- Tests and ODIs combined. Kohli is not only immensely successful on the field, but his poster-boy image has helped him gain millions of fans- of both gender and endorsements worth Rs.100 crore.
For him, life is cricket
However, the 27-year-old's world turned upside-down almost a decade ago, when an 18-year-old Virat Kohli was still playing first-class matches for Delhi.
Back in 2006, Delhi was playing against Karnataka in a Group A match of the Ranji Trophy at the Feroz Shah Kotla. After having put up a gigantic score of 446 runs on the scoreboard courtesy a couple of tons scored by Robin Uthappa and Thilak Naidu, the Karnataka bowling line-up led by Vinay Kumar and Balachandra Akhil reduced the hosts to a mere 59 for 5 after 30.1 overs.
A synonym of dedication
With half of the team back to the pavilion, the Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman Puneet Bisht and the youngster, Virat Kohli fought their hearts to add another 44 runs to take Delhi's total to 103 at the end of the day's play. Kohli stood tall with 40 runs beside his name at the end of the day's play while Bisht remained not out on 28.
The following day when a dejected Virat Kohli started walking slowly towards the pavilion with a match-saving 90 runs beside his name on the scoreboard, the entire bunch of Karnataka players were forced into an awkward situation where they did not know whether to celebrate the fall of the 18-year-old's wicket or go and consolidate the youngster.
Virat Kohli had lost his father, Prem Kohli at 3 AM of the previous night
His Delhi teammates weren't expecting an 18-year-old whose father had passed away the previous night to come and resume his innings at the start of Day 3. Although the Delhi side- already 5 wickets down- desperately needed Kohli to spend as much time on the pitch as possible, they insisted the youngster to go back home and regain his composure.
However, a strong-willed Virat Kohli persisted to the fact that he wanted to continue with his innings.
The rest, as they say, is history
Later in a press conference, the then Delhi Ranji team captain, Mithun Manhas told the press, “We asked him (Kohli) what made him come here. And we also told him that if he decided to go back and be with his family, the entire team would support him. He decided to play. That is an act of great commitment to the team and his innings turned out to be crucial.”
“Hats off to his attitude and determination. It's unfortunate that he missed out on a hundred but what matters today is that how he played, not how much he made,” added Chetan Chauhan, the erstwhile coach of Delhi.Published 28 Mar 2016, 17:50 IST