Virat Kohli has led the Indian cricket team exceptionally well since taking over the reins from MS Dhoni. While Kohli has been in tremendous form with the bat over the past few years, he has also transformed as a leader and broken several records as a captain. The 30-year-old recently became the first Indian as well as the first Asian captain to win a Test series Down Under.
On the personal front, Virat created history by becoming the first player to clinch the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Cricketer of the Year, the ICC Men’s Test Player of the Year and the ICC ODI Player of the Year awards in the same year. Kohli sealed all three major ICC awards following an extraordinary 2018 in which he scored 1,322 Test runs at an average of 55.08 in 13 matches with five tons and 1202 ODI runs at an astonishing average of 133.55 in 14 games including six centuries. The Indian captain also piled up 211 runs in 10 T20Is during the last calendar year. Moreover, he was also named the captain of ICC’s Test and ODI team of the year.
Seeing the way Kohli came out with flying colours on away assignments in the last 12 months, India’s head coach Ravi Shastri has compared the Delhi lad to Pakistan's legendary skipper Imran Khan.
“I think India is lucky to have a leader of that sort. He reminds me of Imran Khan in many ways — in the way he sets the example and sets the standards, and goes about defining it in his own way and leading from the front,” Shastri quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.
Commenting on Virat’s dominance at the ICC awards, the Indian chief coach said: “Starting with the ICC awards (achieving all awards in the same year), I don’t think anyone will ever do it again. It is something very rare because you need two things to happen to win all awards in a single year. You need to be a captain of a very good cricket team across formats, that allows you to win two awards as the best captain of the ICC Test team and the ICC ODI team. So obviously your team is one of the best in the world and it has never happened in Indian cricket before. So an Indian captain gets it, and I want to focus on those two awards more than the personal awards that he has won.”
“You will not get a repeat of that in these two biggest formats of the game. And there is no award for ICC T20 captain. So your team has to be that good that you can win those awards. Whether we get accolades from our guys back home or international media, I give two hoots. When my captain wins those two awards, that’s a tribute to the team. So the boys can be at peace. And Virat knows it,” he added.
Talking about Kohli’s unparalleled batting exploits in alien conditions, Shastri said: “To carry that kind of pressure of captaincy and clean up all the individual ICC awards as well is phenomenal. We have had great players who struggled to handle pressure when they were captain. Then we had some captains who didn’t know what number to bat at - when they are good enough to go at number three, but they chose to go at six or seven.
“But here is a guy who is as dominant as Sir Vivian Richards. The closest I have seen to the great man. Virat is in your face, he wants to dominate and has a work ethic like no one else. Whether it comes to discipline, training, sacrifice or self-denial, it is unbelievable. I think India is lucky to have a leader of that sort. He reminds me of Imran Khan in many ways — in the way he sets the example and sets the standards, and goes about defining it in his own way and leading from the front.
“Virat is special, absolutely special, for someone to get runs in dominant fashion in South Africa, in Australia and in England. England was icing on the cake. Here’s a guy who has got 140 runs in 10 innings (2014) and then gets 590 runs with two masters of bowling in James Anderson and Stuart Broad. You won’t get better than that with the Dukes ball. And to get those runs as captain in a team that is being beaten is phenomenal,” he further asserted.
Although Shastri said Kohli has improved by many folds as a captain, he feels there is still a room for improvement tactically.
“As far as I am concerned, tactically, there is still room for plenty of improvement as captain. He has gotten better and better, and better, and I thought in the Australian Test series, tactically he outsmarted Australia. I still see more room across formats for him to evolve. As a captain, Virat will evolve further,” he remarked.