Around the late 2000s, as the career of the Indian cricketing greats began to see the darkness of the dawn, the Indian cricket fraternity needed a new messiah. Someone with an overdose of passion. Someone fuelled with testosterone. Someone the young and new India can identify with. Someone like Virat Kohli.
Kohli entered the public consciousness by guiding India to an U-19 World Cup in the early 2008. This proved to be a gateway for him into the senior team as he was selected for the senior team bound on the Sri Lankan tour and was given a chance to open the innings in the absence of the regular openers. He proved his mettle by dishing out good performances in the series as India won it, but failed to make the position his in subsequent tours due to the presence of formidable opening pair of Sehwag and Tendulkar.
However his consistent good performances for Delhi and 398 runs in 7 outings at the Emerging players tournament Down Under in 2009 forced the national selectors to change their stance. Consequently, aspace was made for him in the Indian team and he repaid the trust bestowed upon him with a string of impressive performances.
He soon established himself as a regular in the ODI middle-order and was part of the squad that won the 2011 World Cup. He made his Test debut in 2011 and shrugged off the tag of “ODI specialist” by 2013 with Test hundreds in Australia and South Africa.Having reached the number one spot in the ICC rankings for ODI batsmen for the first time in 2013, Kohli also found success in the Twenty20 format, winning the Man of the Tournament twice at the ICC World Twenty20(in 2014 and 2016). In 2014, he became the top-ranked T20I batsman in the ICC rankings, holding the position for three successive years till 2017. Since October 2017, he has been the top-ranked ODI batsman in the world and is currently ranked one in the Test rankings. Among Indian batsmen, Kohli has the highest Tests rating (934 points)., highest historic ODI rating (911 points) and highest T20I rating (897 points).
Kohli was appointed the vice-captain of the ODI team in 2012 and handed over the Test captaincy following Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Test retirement in 2014. In early 2017, he became the limited-overs captain as well after Dhoni stepped down from the position. In ODIs, Kohli has the second highest number of centuries and the highest number of centuries in run-chases in the world. Kohli holds numerous Indian batting records including the fastest ODI century, the fastest batsman to 5,000 ODI runs and the fastest to 10 ODI centuries. Among the T20I world records held by Kohli are: the fastest batsman to 2,000 runs and 1,000 runs, most runs in a calendar year and most fifties in the format. He also holds the records of most runs in a single tournament of both the World Twenty20 and the IPL. He is the only batsman in history to average over 50 in Test matches, ODIs and T20Is simultaneously.
Kohli has been the recipient of many awards such as the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy (ICC Cricketer of the Year) in 2017; ICC ODI Player of the Year in 2012, 2017 and Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 2016, 2017. In 2013, he was given the Arjuna Award in recognition of his achievements in international cricket. The Padma Shri was conferred upon him in 2017 under the sports category. Kohli is ranked as one of the world’s most famous athletes by ESPN and one of the most valuable athlete brands by Forbes. In 2018, Time magazine named Kohli one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Often ranked as one of the four great batsmen of this generation alongside Australia’s Steven Smith, England’s Joe Root, and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, Kohli has enough time left in his career to outshine the legends he was supposed to replace.