Free Press Journal

Virat Kohli in 2017: How the King of Cricket rewrote the rules of the game

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The year 2017 is coming to a close and the Indian Republic has a lot to cheer about for the events that happened in the past one year. Indian cricket, in general, enjoyed a productive time and one man that stands out is Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli. Kohli in 2017 set new benchmarks and created a legacy that will be very hard to beat and the skipper also had the added responsibility of leading the side and it brought the best out of him.

Extra burden of T20, ODI captaincy

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The year for Kohli started with Indian legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni resigning as one day and T20 captain and Kohli, who was leading the Test side, was burdened with the leadership of limited overs sides and there was a feeling that the extra responsibility might drain out this highly talented and passionate cricketer. In Test cricket, India’s home season of 13 Test matches continued and after routing New Zealand (3-0) and England (4-0) it was the turn of hapless Bangladeshi side, which was playing its maiden Test in India at Hyderabad and Kohli struck yet another double ton (204) and proved that his purple patch is here to stay and sent a strong message to the visiting Australians that India is ready to lock horns with them.

When the going is smooth and easy invariably you suffer a rough patch and Australian led by Steven Smith played marvellous cricket and won at Pune against all odds and it was their first win on Indian soil since 2004 and Kohli struggled right through the series and missed the last Test at Dharamsala due to shoulder injury, but luckily for men in blue they won the series 2-1 and Smith earned the respect by scoring three centuries on quite difficult tracks and led the baggy greens with distinction. Kohli still recovering from the injury had a poor IPL by his lofty standards and, to add insult to the injury his franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore finished with the wooden spoon (finishing last).

Records galore for Kohli

Virat Kohli is one fierce and competitive individual and is a man who can go to any extent to be successful and would do the most boring things in order to achieve success. The year 2017 saw Kohli setting new records with his fitness and that fit body paid dividends in his performance and he was converting his Test hundreds in to ‘Daddy hundreds’ (converting tons into double centuries; term coined by Graham Gooch) and over the past 18 months, the lad from Delhi scored astonishingly six double centuries and never looked fatigued or tired and was scoring his runs at a fair clip.

Next to Tendulkar in ODI cricket

In ODI cricket, Kohli wrote his name into record books and overtook former Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting (30 tons, 375 matches) and now has 32 centuries in the coloured clothing only behind the legendary Sachin Tendulkar (49). Kohli has understood the science of ODI cricket and was scoring runs in all conditions with ridiculous ease and just over 200 matches he has become a world dominant one day batsman and that to with playing cricketing shots rather than slogging or trying funky things. The biggest regret for Kohli would be India’s loss against arch-rivals Pakistan in the final against Pakistan at the ICC Champions Trophy at The Oval, where he was outdone by Mohammad Amir and India were the second best team on the day.

The statistics have never been Virat Kohli’s cup of tea, but during the year he scored 11 international hundreds (all as captain, new world record) and in all scored 2818 runs in the calendar year across formats and was only behind Ricky Ponting and Kumar Sangakkara for most runs scored annually. Hearing this, most cricketers would be chuffed, but it was routine for Kohli and his eyes are locked on winning trophies and matches for the tri-colour.

They say records are meant to be broken, but Kohli so far ahead of his peers that he was practically competing with himself. The fitness freak now has 52 international tons (32 in ODIs, 20 in Tests) and like old wine is getting better by the day and is so focused and determined that nothing fazes him and more the pressure more his game becomes better.

Success off the field too

On the personal front, Virat Kohli married his long-time girlfriend Bollywood diva Anushka Sharma in Italy in a private ceremony to avoid media glare and paparazzi. The brand Kohli became a huge entity in 2017 and was named in Forbes magazine’s list of top 10 wealthiest sportsperson for the year and is making his presence felt on and off the field literally.

Kohli is the face of aspirational India and is an individual who is supremely confident and it would not be an exaggeration to say what he achieved in 2017 was only the tip of the iceberg and at the age of 29 he has lot more to achieve and Indian team will face more stern challenges in 2018 and knowing the man he will not rest on his laurels and would be slogging it out in the gym on New Year’s eve and the year 2017 saw Kohli becoming the undisputed King of cricket.