Virat Kohli's evolution (2008-2017): The journey in pictures
Before even playing his first game for India, Virat Kohli had etched his name in history books with a World Cup triumph at the age of 19, leading a team of talented youngsters to the U-19 title.
However, as is the case in Indian cricket, it's not about making your mark: it's about maintaining it. The sheer volume of competition has no parallels, and a player has to continuously adapt, both technically and mentally, to stay relevant with the ever-changing dynamics of the game.
The Virat Kohli of 2017 is a far cry from the drum-beating, chubby 19-year-old in 2008. A lot has changed in Indian cricket since, including Kohli, who has evolved into a near-complete batsman with an unmatched quest for excellence and an eerily consistent approach to batting, across formats, conditions and seasons.
Here's a look at his journey from an unsure 19-year-old in 2008, to an all-encompassing leader, and one of the world's best batters in 2017.
An unglamorous ODI debut
A visibly nervous Kohli, making his ODI debut in Sri Lanka, looked out of sorts, playing and missing after being given the opener’s slot along with Gautam Gambhir. The innings produced only 12 runs, but Kohli stuck around for the remainder of the series, managing starts, including a fifty in his fourth game.
Interestingly, he was let go off for a year, and returned only as a replacement for the injured Gambhir. An under-pressure unbeaten 79 against West Indies in the Champions Trophy meant that he had repaid the faith placed by the selectors.
As he grew in confidence and managed a consistent run with the side, Kohli’s game started flourishing. Not afraid to brandish his natural game, he managed to breach the three-digit figure against Sri Lanka in 2009, a side against which he would score profusely in the future.
He followed it up with a consistent run of scores in the tri-nation series against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and carried the success for the first time away from home, against Zimbabwe in 2010.
Making a name in the shortest format
By 2010, T20Is wasn't a fun format anymore, and the Board had started to identify a set of players ideal for the shortest version based on their IPL performances. Kohli was growing as a player with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and had proved his mettle on subcontinental pitches, ably facing both pace and spin.
He was handed his T20I cap in June 2010, against Zimbabwe on their own ground. Not a typical slam-bang batsman, Kohli made the T20 format his own over the years: he evolved into a shrewd batsman, identified his strengths and honed them to adapt to the shortest format with surprising ease.