Having made his international debut in an ODI game against Sri Lanka in August 2008, Indian captain Virat Kohli has come a long way. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of the modern era.
When it comes to batsmanship across all three formats, Kohli is simply a giant. He has scored 35 one-day international hundreds – only behind his batting hero Sachin Tendulkar (49) with 21 of them in run-chases.
Virat averages a mind-boggling 58.20 in ODIs from 211 matches with 9779 runs while his T20I average reads 48.88 in 62 matches with 2102 runs. Not long ago, Kohli had the average of more than 50 in the shortest format as well. The 29-year-old has also proved his mettle in the traditional format of cricket, scoring 6098 runs at an impressive average of 54.44 in 70 matches thus far.
Recently, Kohli opened up about his decade-long international career in an exclusive interview with Wisden Cricket Monthly.
When asked to pick out one moment he would rather forget from his career, the Indian captain said: “The one thing I remember most is when I’d had enough of the Australian crowd at Sydney [in 2012] and I just decided to flick a [middle] finger at them. ‘I’m so cool’. The match referee [Ranjan Madugalle] called me to his room the next day and I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’. He said, ‘What happened at the boundary yesterday?’. I said, ‘Nothing, it was a bit of banter’. Then he threw the newspaper in front of me and there was this big image of me flicking on the front page and I said, ‘I’m so sorry, please don’t ban me!’. I got away with that one. He was a nice guy, he understood I was young and these things happen.”
Virat, however, is proud that he has stayed true to himself throughout his career.
“I really laugh at a lot of the things I did when I was younger but I’m proud that I did not change my ways because I was always going to be who I am and not change for the world or for anyone else. I was pretty happy with who I was,” he added.
Kohli admits he owes a lot to his childhood coach and family for keeping him in line during his early days as an international cricketer.
“My coach, Rajkumar Sharma, was always looking at things from the outside and he understood me the most, after my family, because I had interacted him so much over the years. My family as well. Every time they felt like I was not on the right path they told me,” Virat remarked.
“But my coach was the one that was very stern with me. If I was doing something wrong he would make sure that he got that across, one way or the other. He was the only person I was scared of when I was growing up. I went into his academy when I was nine and even now I still speak to him about my game,” he explained.
Having proved his credentials as a top performer across the world, Kohli is now open to offer guidance to India’s new breed of young stars.
“I look forward to guiding the young guys in the team to not make the same mistakes that probably I made when I was their age because I want them to have three more years of quality cricket compared to going up and down, struggling here and there and then finally finding their feet,” he stated.
“If I see someone making the same mistakes that I committed and I cannot correct them, then it’s my failure. If I choose to stay quiet I’m not really doing my job. You don’t want to suffocate anyone but the mistakes I made early in my career, I would not like to see youngsters make them more than once, because that’s just wasting such an important phase of their lives and careers,” Virat Kohli concluded.