The virtues and shortcomings of Virat Kohli
The entire cricketing world has watched Virat Kohli since the time he made his debut in in 2008. Kohli was the captain of the India U19 team in 2008, and produced fabulous performances in domestic cricket - averaging above 50 in first class and List A matches.
How little did we know he would grow to such prominence within such a short span of time, barely a decade later.
Cricket in India is treated as a cult, along the same lines as politics. Indians love to have heroes. From Mahatma Gandhi to Sunil Gavaskar, Jawaharlal Nehru to Kapil Dev, and from Rajiv Gandhi to Sachin Tendulkar, the list is endless.
Kohli has big shoes to fill, and there lies his biggest challenge in terms of performance, ability and expectation. So far he has had a good run, but with age, there will be more questions than answers.
What does Virat Kohli bring to the table?
Kohli brings consistency in performance with his amazing batting skills and to some extent his captaincy record. As a batsman, he filled the void created by Tendulkar in terms of run-making and team-saving. He took off from where Tendulkar left, and reached even greater heights.
With the bat, Kohli has arguably been more consistent than Tendulkar and Gavaskar. He is almost as good as Vivian Richards when it comes to dominating the opposition. And he has won more matches single-handedly than most other cricketers on the planet.
Kohli lives a regimented life which can be seen in his fitness levels. Like a millennial player, he loves to show off his personal life with aplomb without giving two hoots to anyone. He also loves to win games at any cost.
As a leader, he has grown tremendously and is always willing to learn from his teammates as well as the opposition players. His captaincy record has been exemplary, comprising 26 wins in 46 Test matches. This is better than the captaincy record of India's most successful captains - Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni.
Where does Kohli lack?
Cricket is known as a "gentleman's game", and Kohli is anything but a gentleman. He is a maverick, sometimes a brat, who lets his emotions do the talking on the field. The qualities of a true leader are gentleness, poise and restraint. Kohli has to learn a lot if he is to make a mark in the annals of cricket as a captaincy legend.
Moreover, his team selections have always been under scrutiny. Many believe that it was his faulty team selection that lost India the Test series in England and South Africa last year. This is one area where he has to focus and ensure the playing XI is the best for a particular format.
Kohli is evolving as a captain, but still has a lot to learn. "Whatever experience he had was that of Indian pitches...He did not have the experience of breaking a good partnership. Hopefully, he will learn that by the time we tour Australia," Gavaskar had said in the middle of last year.
That Kohli paid heed to those words, and led his team so well on the tour to Australia, speaks volumes about his willingness to learn.
Kohli has grown into a tremendous batsman and is learning the ropes of the game with each passing day. To be a truly "Virat" player, he will have to work on his limitations and optimize his strengths so that he is remembered as the greatest of the greats.