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An ode to Virat Kohli on completing 12 years in International Cricket

At that juncture, a composed and an unflinching rookie with number 18 on the back of his jersey, was slowly carving out a reputation of being one of the rising stars of Indian cricket. That man was none other than Virat Kohli.

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 fervour into success, Virat received the shock of his life – his father’s death. In an act of immense audacity, he went on to play for Delhi the very next day, scoring a crucial 90. The day that changed him forever, or you can’t just say he grew up overnight as all his vitality was to be utilized for gaining the reputable 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 by leading an ripen team. In a surprise squad selection, Kohli was given his ODI debut in 2008 against Sri Lanka.

The young man did not set the stage aflame upon his arrival. In fact, in the first one and half years of his career, Kohli scored only 484 runs, and many felt that he was a man who was more interested in fashion and tattoos than scoring runs. But, the Indian team management carried on with him, as they thought that it was only a matter of time before his talent converted itself into performance with the bat.

He soon responded by scoring a stupendous 107 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata against Sri Lanka. Three more centuries in the year 2010 ensured Kohli a berth in the Indian squad for the all-important 2011 World Cup to be played on home soil.

Kohli’s second boundary proved that it was a craftsman at work. Thisara Perera bowled the ball on off stump, Kohli got onto the front foot and played a gorgeous cover drive, bisecting cover and mid-off with the precision of a surgeon.

Kohli played three crucial knocks for India in the World Cup: his maiden World Cup hundred in the first match against Bangladesh, a crucial 59 against the West Indies and a 35 in the World Cup Final, stitching an 83 run partnership with Gautam Gambhir.

February 28, 2012 was one such day. The venue for this quintessential was the Hobart Cricket Ground, Australia. The Common Wealth series was nearing its pinnacle, and India took on Sri Lanka in a very important clash. For India to stand a place in the final, they had to chase down the Sri Lankan total within 40 overs.The Delhi Dynamite got to his hundred with a flick to deep mid-wicket off Malinga, and after he reached the three-figure mark off just 76 balls, Kohli punched the air in delight and kissed his helmet. And once Kohli reached his hundred, he went berserk, unleashing a barbarous on Malinga that will be talked about for ages.

The second special knock came against the Arch-rivals, Pakistan. Kohli scored 1026 runs from the 17 matches that he played at an average of 68.40 in 2012. If 2012 saw the birth of a superstar, 2013 further confirmed that he was here to stay. In the 34 matches that Kohli played in 2013, he scored a colossal 1268 runs including 4 hundreds and 7 fifties.

MS Dhoni announced his desire to retire from Test cricket with immediate effect at the end of the 3rd Test against Australia. Virat Kohli was handed the reigns full-time. He became India’s 32nd Test captain in history at the age of 26. At the turn of the year, he was tasked with saving face for Team India as Australia had raced to a 2-0 lead in the four match Test series. He scored a century, recording his third in a row as captain as his team stayed with Australia at each step and managed to draw the Test match. This series also saw Virat Kohli record 169 runs in the third test at Melbourne.

There are two things you know when you see Virat Kohli in action. One, there is enthusiasm and desire to be the best in every thing he does. Other, he plays to win. Yes, every player does that, right? But not quite like Virat from bringing the entire stadium to life when everything seems dull to his batting which now everyone agrees is a piece of art in itself. Four IPL centuries in one season, Man of the series in WT20 2016 for the second consecutive time, three double hundreds in tests, four ODI tons. All the magic in one year. That was 2016 for Virat Kohli in a nutshell.

In 2017 as well Virat Kohli asserting his dominance across formats. He started the year by racking up centuries and ended 2017 by scoring double hundreds almost at will, thereby reasserting that consistency is indispensable in any field to become successful.

Virat Kohli continued to live up to the tag of being the world’s best batsman with yet another record-breaking year. Even before the year began, the script for 2018 was already written like 2016. Living up to the hype as anticipated by the spectators, Kohli clearly proved that he is head and shoulders above the rest. Rarely has a batsman dominated world cricket like he has done as Kohli accumulated more than 2700 runs in international cricket at an average over 70 across all formats of the game.

In 2019, Indian skipper Virat Kohli led Team India to a historic win over Australia Down Under. Apart from that, he also became the quickest batsman to score 20,000 runs in international cricket. With 443 runs, he had a World Cup to remember but Kohli could not convert any of his five half-centuries into a century. Though, he created a record of being the first captain to score five successive half-centuries in a World Cup. With 1,377 runs at 59.86, he ended 2019 as second-highest run-scorer after Rohit Sharma.

Virat Kohli is 31 years old with a lot of cricket left in him. A billion hearts beat as one when he walks down to bat. He still has a lot of bowling attacks to tame, a lot of battles to be won, a lot of records to be rewritten, and most importantly, a lot more matches to be won for India.