Happy Birthday Run Machine : The Story of Highs, Highs and Highs
It was 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia that I saw a feisty, young and chubby Virat Kohli run and punch in the air after scoring a century. Under his captaincy India won the World Cup and I simply fell in love with his aggressiveness and never say die attitude. However, his greatness today couldn’t have been predicted back then.
Immediately he was picked up to play in the IPL for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and it wasn’t long for him to break it into the Indian team. It took him four innings to get to a half century against SriLanka in 2008. It was in 2009 Champions Trophy that he won his first Man of the Match award for his match winning 79 in a run chase against the Windies. It was against SriLanka that Kohli got his first century,107 off 111 balls in a 224 run partnership with Gautam Gambhir and since then it has been no looking back for the Run Machine.
Continuing in a rich vein of form, Kohli was picked up for the 2011 World Cup to be held in India, by then he had made the number 4 spot his own. Playing his first World Cup game, Kohli smashed a century against Bangladesh becoming India’s first batsman to score a century on World Cup debut. His contributions through out the tournament were notable but the 35 in the finals at Wankhede in a 83 run partnership with Gambhir, when Sachin and Sehwag had gone early was exceptional.
One of his best ODI knocks came against SriLanka at Hobart in 2012. India needed 321 runs under 40 overs to get a bonus point in the tri-series. Kohli maneuvered his bat as a magic wand in his hand smashing Lasith Malinga all around the park. He scored 133 off 86 balls. Former Australian cricketer and commentator Dean Jones rated Kohli’s innings as “one of the greatest ODI knocks of all time”.
Rising through the ranks, Kohli was made MS Dhoni’s deputy for the Asia Cup. He brought up his best score of 183 off 148 balls against the arch rivals Pakistan to help India chase down the target of 330 – India’s biggest run chase at the time. He was scoring tons all around the world. Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe said,”Kohli is the next chosen one. He exudes the intensity of Dravid, the audacity of Sehwag, and the extraordinary range of Tendulkar. That doesn’t make him better, simply sui generis, his own unique kind.”
As every great gets to know his shortcomings, Kohli also did. He had a miserable England tour in 2014, averaging just 13.40 in 10 innings with a top score of 39. Geoffrey Boycott said, “Jimmy Anderson ate him for breakfast. Every time Kohli came in, all he did was bowl at off stump, around the corridor of uncertainty and Kohli nicked it. He is playing with his bat too far away from his pad. He has to look at video replays of his technique and get back to basics”. Little did Boycott know that Kohli would come back in 2018 and smash the same English bowlers, mustering 593 runs in the 5 match series.
With MS Dhoni stepping down Kohli took over the reigns. Under Kohli’s leadership India received the ICC Test Championship mace. India is No.1 in Tests and No.2 in ODI’s and T20Is. Kohli too sits on the top of the charts in both Test cricket and ODIs.
Kohli also completed a milestone 10,000 runs in ODI becoming the fastest batsmen to do. He took only 205 innings, 54 innings lesser than Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Kohli has as of today smashed 62 centuries, the 100 century record very much in sight.
Kohli has his and his teams’ preparations all set for the upcoming big tour down under and the ICC World Cup next year. Happy Birthday Champ and best of luck for the next year.