Dubai: Virat Kohli is not among the easiest to crack. Be it on the field or outside it, he manoeuvres things the way he wants and most of the time succeeds. It was no different when he was going through a rare lean patch and many had more or less written him off. The fighter he is known for reclaimed his glory and just showed why he’s rated among the best in the world. The 34-year-old doesn’t play for individual glory and always puts the team’s cause ahead. But along the way the Indian talisman has also managed to record his personal bests on several ocassions.
On Wednesday, it was a special one. King Kohli broke the record for most ODI centuries held by the person he grew up watching and admiring. Kohli broke Sachin Tendulkar’s record by scoring his 50th One-Day International century in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals against New Zealand in Mumbai on Wednesday. The feat among several others no doubt makes him the easy pick for the GOAT of this era.
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Phenomenal World Cup
Kohli has been having a phenomenal World Cup this year. He has restrained his aggression to a great extent to anchor the innings, be it. His role assumes even greater importance when Team India is chasing a target. He has managed to maintain an ice-cool composure and breaks down the target into small pieces to overhaul them with elan. Kohli scored 117 against New Zealand to take his World Cup tally to 711 in 10 matches, with three centuries to his credit. His knock took India to a massive total of 397 for four in 50 overs. He is just a few runs away from becoming the second highest scorer in World Cup, behind former Australian captain Ricky Ponting.
“It’s a big game for us and I played the role so that the guys around me can come and express themselves. For me the most important thing is to make my team win. I’ve been given a role this tournament and I’m trying to dig deep and that’s the key to my consistency — play according to the situation and play for the team,” Kohli told official broadcasters at the end of the innings.
“It’s the stuff of dreams. Sachin paaji was there in the stands. It’s very difficult for me to express it. My life partner, my hero are sitting there.”
Kohli has been in a different zone, especially when Team India are chasing. Former South African coach and the mental conditioning coach of the 2011 World Cup-winning Indian team, has been involved with many players past and present. He feels that Kohli is the best in the modern era to orchestrate the chase. A chase is the most difficult part of cricket. The target, coupled with the scoreboard pressure, creates huge pressure and the fear of failure will invariably cause their downfall. Kohli has not only conquered many feats in world cricket, has also been able to conquer pressure and fear.
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Virat Kohli 2.0
“Kohli is the best exponent of shouldering the responsibility of the chase and knows how to do it. Eight out of 11 players will be worried about the failure or will be desperate to win in knockout games like semi-finals or the final. It’s the nature of pressure and happens to a majority of the players in big tournaments,” explained Upton.
“In those matches we often rely on one or two individuals who don’t succumb to pressure and fear and are able to navigate their way through the difficult situations. Kohli in those big moments understands how to get past fear and pressure, stays fully focused and understands what do I need to take my team across the line. Not many players around could do it, the rest will suffer from fear and pressure.”
Kohli in his second avatar has been operating at a different level, going through his tasks without any fuss. He has literally responded to his critics by allowing his bat to do the talking. The 35-year-old had set such high standards that even a half-century or a lack century is considered a failure, which is not the same to another ordinary player.
Even his place in the Indian team was questioned and there were unfair calls for his head, but the team management and skipper Rohit Sharma threw their weight behind the star batter. Unperturbed by all the noise, Kohli battled his way to the top again. That didn’t come easily. He even battled depression. Facing adversities with a smile is nothing new for Kohli, who scored a match-saving 90 in a domestic match hours after his father’s death. That showed that Kohli is made of steel, which has translated into stunning performances now and made him a GOAT.
Richards, a fan of Kohli
“I am a huge fan of Virat, I have been for a long time, and he continues to show why he has to go down as one of the all-time greats, right up there with the likes of the great Sachin,” said West Indian great Viv Richards in his column for ICC.
“Virat is a go-getter and what sets him apart is his mental strength. He will have backed himself throughout, and on the occasions in the past in which I have chatted with him and we have discussed things, his mental strength has always been evident. That has been key to pushing him through to how he is playing now. Very few players, or people, are built like that.”
Kohli has many more years to go and during the course of his journey he will be rewriting several records, but for now he is happy to be living a dream.