The evolution of Kohli - a ' Virat ' journey
2012 - a year on from laying hands on unarguably Cricket's most coveted silverware, the Indian Cricket had entered into a transition phase. The hero of the World Cup, Yuvraj Singh was battling with cancer. The spearheads of the bowling attack, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra were dwindling from the international scenario. Openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag had just lost their spots in the team.
The biggest concern however was - Sachin Tendulkar, a demigod who carried the hopes of an entire nation for more than two decades was in the twilight of his career. It was a herculean task to replicate him on the 22 yards, let alone replace him.
At that juncture, a nonchalant and audacious colt with number 18 on the back, was slowly carving out a reputation of being one of the rising stars of Indian cricket. That man was none other than Virat Kohli.
As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day, Virat's meteoric rise also wasn't a case of being a flash in the pan. It is simply the outcome of his sheer perseverance and toil that has helped him become a player that we know today.
Blessed with the 4Ts: Talent, Technique, Temperament and Timing, Kohli made his First-Class Debut for Delhi in 2006. As he was translating his enthusiasm into success, Virat received the shock of his life- his father's death. In an act of immense courage, he went on to play for Delhi next day, scoring a crucial 90. That day changed him forever, as all his energy was to be utilized for gaining the prestigious Indian cap.
Virat Kohli led the successful Indian campaign in the 2008 U19 World Cup, which was where he announced the world of his talents. In a surprise squad selection, Kohli was given his ODI debut in 2008 against Sri Lanka.
A string of inconsistent performances meant soon he was dropped from the team. However, the youngster came back stronger and in 2010, emerged as the 2nd highest run-scorer in ODIs behind South Africa's Hashim Amla. This meant that the selectors could not ignore him for the 2011 World cup.
The selector's decision was immediately vindicated as he became the first Indian to score a century on World Cup debut, as well as playing a crucial knock of 35 in the final after India was in trouble with the early dismissals of Tendulkar and Sehwag.
In the aftermath of the World Cup, Kohli received his debut Test cap against the West Indies. His first major overseas tour came in Australia, a test, that he passed with flying colours as he became the only Indian to score a century in that series.
Graduation with the Hobart Heroics (2012)
Every player has that one career-defining performance to announce his arrival at the global stage. An unbeaten 148 against the Aussies in their backyard was that knock for Sachin Tendulkar. It was that fiery 148 versus Pakistan for MS Dhoni. So, which knock showcased Kohli's brilliant temperament? Unarguably, it was his Hobart Heroics Down Under (2012), in a do-or-die tri-series match against Sri Lanka that truly set him apart.
Sri Lanka batted first and put up a daunting target of 320. To make matters worse, India had to chase down the target in 40 overs in order to have a chance of qualifying for the final. What followed was a display of immense grit, class and maturity as Kohli smashed the Sri Lankan bowlers all over the park.
As a last resort, Sri Lanka called upon Malinga, who unarguably was the world’s best death bowler at the time. However, there was no stopping the Delhi boy that day, as he rampaged Malinga for 24 runs in an over. With a calculated knock of 133*, Kohli won the match in a mere 37 overs, laying down the foundations of being the world's best chasing batsman.
Emergence as the mainstay of the Indian Team
2012 was the breakthrough year for Virat, as he delivered consistent knocks at the top of the order. Aggression and athleticism became the main aspects of his game. Few weeks after demolishing Sri Lanka, Kohli plundered the Pakistani bowling attack as he single-handedly chased down a mammoth total of 330, with a career-best 183. As a result, he won the ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year award for his exploits with the willow.
It was from 2013 that Virat's career graph took a sharp rise, as he entered into a record-shattering phase, emerging as the main stalwart of the Indian team. Opposition, situation, format or pitch - nothing seemed to have an impact on him as he kept on stamping his authority on every game.
In November that year, when Sachin finally called a day on his international career, Kohli was ready to step into his shoes as a Test maestro. Although he suffered a hiccup in England, assertive exploits Down Under, with 3 centuries in first 3 innings as Captain, proved his mettle in the longest format.
Since that showdown, he has exhibited a temperament to wear and tire out opposition bowling attacks on numerous occasions, having notched up 6 double hundreds in the past 18 months.
Redefining T20 Batting
In a career that has largely been about defying the odds, Kohli has redefined T20 batting, in a manner that he is regarded as the ' Bradman of T20 '. For a man who gives utmost importance to mindset, adapting and absorbing, a vigilant approach and electric running between the wickets have been instrumental to his success in the shortest format.
His technical supremacy has fetched him 2 World T20 Man of the Tournament Awards and a path-breaking IPL 2016 season with a whopping 973 runs. Four IPL centuries in a single season and a nerve-wracking 82* vs Australia in the 2016 ICC World T20 have been some of the major highlights.
Leadership Responsibilities and Surge to the Zenith of World Cricket
Since 2016, Virat Kohli has been in a league of his own, setting a benchmark for consistency and fitness. Taking over the leadership duties from MS Dhoni, he has led India to uncountable bilateral wins across oppositions and continents.
Kohli has groomed youngsters like KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, and stressed on playing a fearless brand of Cricket. ICC Cricketer of the Year, entries into ICC Team of the Year, Wisden Award, Padma Shri - there is nothing that has escaped his grasp. This solidarity has earned him the title of ' Run Machine '.
Kohli suffered a hiccup in England in 2014, a point that was continuously raised by his critics on his immaculate batsmanship. He managed a paltry 134 runs in 5 Tests, at an average of 13.40. Kohli was particularly vulnerable to the delivery outside off stump, as James Anderson managed to get regular nicks from him.
However, this time around, with rigorous training, pristine technique and unerring concentration, Kohli got rid of the ghosts of the 2014 tour with a chivalrous 149. On a pitch where others failed to get past 50, he single-handedly steered the Indian innings. He came back with a strong 51 and almost took his team cross the line, once again being the pick of the batsmen.
Virat Kohli is already a legend of the game, with still a lot of cricket left in him. With a career spectacled with glories, Kohli can be proud of his 'Virat Journey', as he currently leads the team against the English fury.