“But Kohli’s intensity, his fire, his rage, is his strength. It has taken him to where few thought he could reach. Take it away, and there is no Kohli left. Take away emotion and sensitivity, and there is no poet left. The winner in Kohli looks at situations like few others can. Tell him it can’t be done and watch him go for it.”
Those are the beautiful words in which Harsha Bhogle describes Virat Kohli‘s style of play in his article ‘Virat Kohli: The dark before the dawn?’ The name Virat is very much synonymous with intensity, consistency and desperation to win amongst the cricket audience.
While some criticise his loudmouthedness and aggressive nature on the field, others rever his pure batting style and the never-say-die attitude. Fan or critic, everyone surely wants to know one thing about Virat Kohli – “What’s the recipe that makes this man arguably the greatest cricketer of this generation?”
The King of Consistency
What makes Kohli the most spoken cricketer in the world? Definitely, his records! From being the fastest to get to 10,000 ODI runs to being second in the list of most ODI centuries, Virat has conquered several astonishing records in an incredibly short period as compared to the other batting stalwarts.
His hunger to win every match for the team, be it India or Royal Challengers Bangalore, never fades away. To be there till the end to see the team home is what makes him genuinely special amongst other batsmen.
As one rightly said, “If chasing is an art, Virat Kohli is Picasso!” The Delhi batsman comes second in the list of cricketers with the most runs in ODI chases (the first, unsurprisingly, being Sachin Tendulkar). With an average of over 90 in chases, Kohli is a Chase Master in the truest sense.
There is a reason why Virat is in constant comparison with greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacque Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara etc. The answer may be found by comparing the stats (ODIs)
Sachin, Sangakkara and Ponting happen to be the top 3 leading run-getters in ODIs. The reason their record is in danger with Kohli being in the prime and has many cricketing years left in him. Not to forget his consistency!
Textbook player of the beautiful game
Virat Kohli is one of the cleanest hitters of the game. Watching him hit that cover drive is akin to experiencing Roger Federer hitting that delicious back-hand or Cristiano Ronaldo striking a beautiful bicycle kick. The satisfaction one gets after watching Kohli’s classic drives is unparalleled. There was a time when Sachin’s straight drives made the fans miss a heartbeat. Now, the baton has duly been forwarded to King Kohli.
While such shot-playing is beautiful to watch, it also displays the kind of efforts he has put in to attain perfection.
A fitness freak
True sports champions are amongst the fittest personalities on the field, conditioned to perform with the same intensity. Always.
Former Indian cricket team strength and conditioning coach Shankar Basu never misses an opportunity to praise Virat Kohli. Basu was appointed to the post in 2015. In his first meeting with Virat Kohli, Basu mentions Kohli asked him to count the fittest cricketers in the world. Kohli wanted to be 25% fitter than them. In Basu’s opinion, Kolhi is 50% more fit than the best of the rest.
Kohli’s hunger to be the best can be supported by many anecdotes. Basu recalls a famous incident when Kohli found out that his body fat percentage was one and a half more than Novak Djokovic, the star Tennis player. He began to train to beat that.
It may seem astonishing to many, but Virat Kohli is a vegan. Kohli gave up animal protein a few months ago and what it seems is he is not regretting it. In his recent Twitter post, Kohli was full of admiration for the Netflix series “The Game Changers”- a show which basically stresses on the benefits of plant-based eating for athletes. The series features many elite athletes as well as special operations soldiers.
Saw game changers on Netflix. Being a vegetarian athlete has made me realise what I have believed all these years regarding diet was a myth. What an amazing documentary and yes I’ve never felt better in my life after I turned vegetarian.
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) October 23, 2019
But that wasn’t always the case. If one looks at the Virat before 2013 and the Virat post 2013, one can clearly note the stark difference in personality.
“I was not disciplined at all in terms of my eating and my fitness. I can’t even relate any more to the guy that I was in those years.”
– Virat in an interview to Graham about the changes in his fitness and eating habits post an incident in IPL 2012
“I saw myself in the mirror and said you can’t look like that if you are an international cricketer.”
This aspect of Virat glorifies sacrifices so much. Surely, we must take a page out of Virat’s success book and learn to prioritise health in life above all.
The sign of a true leader is that he walks the talk. And that’s very much the case in Kohli’s case. The fact that the Indian fielding unit, post Kohli’s takeover as the captain, gradually became one of the fittest is clearly evident. Kohli himself set high fitness priorities and so did the team, by walking on the captain’s path.
The resilient force
Passion is addictive to the one who really dreams big in it. The story of young Kohli is a testimony to the preceding statement.
In the December of 2006, 18-year old Kohli was playing Ranji Trophy for Delhi against Karnataka. Delhi was tottering on 105 for 4 with Kohli on unbeaten 40 at the end of the day’s play. The team was on the brink of facing a follow-on.
Little did Kohli know that the coming night would change his life forever. Kohli’s father breathed his last in the early morning in front of Virat’s eyes.
In an interview with Graham Bensinger, Kohli said he called his coach and narrated the happenings. When asked by the coach whether he will play the following day or not, Kohli, in a determined tone, said he wanted to play.
“For me leaving a cricket match is unacceptable, regardless of what happened in life.”
Such was his passion that Kohli played the game and returned home to do the cremation rituals after getting out.
“Now, I feel like it was the most impactful thing to have happened in my life. I came back from the game for the last rites and promised my brother that I will play this game at the highest level. There is nothing else in life that can distract me anymore. It was my father’s vision as well
This truly is an out-of-the-box experience even for us, the readers. Kohli’s tryst with the hardships only made him a beast hungry to reach great heights.
The centre of Discussion
A modern-day cricketing terminology is on the buzz. “The Fab Four”. This decade of cricket has been hailed as the era of the fab four.
Let’s make it simple for those who don’t know. Kane Williamson, Steve Smith, Joe Root and Virat Kohli together constitute the fab four or simply the best players of this decade.
One thing very much centric to the fan wars regarding the Fab Four is, Virat always happens to be the one end of the comparison. Smith vs Virat in tests, Williamson and Root vs Virat in ODIs. Whatever the format of the game, Kohli retains his place as the king.
A career analysis of the fab four (ODIs)
Kohli is more famously known as the “Chase Master”. How often do we see India chasing 300+ targets with ease. With incoming of Kohli in 2009, India gradually became the best chasing side over the years. Who doesn’t remember the Hobart storm, when India needed to chase 321 inside 40 overs to get the bonus point to increase their chance of qualifying for the finals of Commonwealth Bank Series (tri-series between Australia, India and Sri Lanka). Kohli hammered Malinga who was in his prime form then for 24 runs in a single over.
Kohli’s record analysis:
Out of 43 centuries scored by Virat, 17 have come while batting first. The rest of the 26 centuries came while batting second i.e. while chasing. Out of 26, 22 centuries have come in a winning cause! Which means whenever Virat has scored a century while chasing, India have won 84.61% of their matches.