Kolkata: For Virat Kohli, the India captain and arguably the best batsman in contemporary cricket despite a recent dip in form, August 18, 2008 still perhaps brings back a whiff of nostalgia. It’s the day a precocious 19-year-old, who led India to their Under-19 World Cup triumph earlier that year, made his international debut in a One Day International against Sri Lanka at Dambulla.
It was, of course, not a case of morning showing the day as a young Kohli who opened the batting - faced 22 balls and spent 33 minutes at the crease before he was dismissed by Nuwan Kulasekara in the eighth over of the match for 12 runs. The MS Dhoni-led Indian side was dismissed for 146 as Muttiah Muralitharan and mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis picked three wickets each as the hosts went on to win the match by eight wickets.
Much like November 15, 1989, the day remembered in the social media these days for Sachin Tendulkar’s debut in Pakistan, August 18 was remembered by the twitterati as one which ushered in the heir apparent of the ‘Little Master’ in Indian cricket.
‘‘#OnThisDay in 2008, @imVkohli made his debut in international cricket.
13 years later, with 438 international matches & 22,937 runs under his belt, the #TeamIndia captain remains one of the finest cricketers going around,’’ BCCI wrote on their official Twitter handle.
Royal Challengers Bangalore, the IPL franchise who will be embarking under his leadership for their first-ever crown in the UAE next month, went a step further - releasing a series of tweets with action pictures of some of his memorable innings across all formats - asking the fans as to pick their favourites.
Kohli’s first international series, however, saw modest success as he registered scores of 37, 25, 54 and 31 in the next four matches as an opener. He had to wait for 14 matches for his first international century, which incidentally came against Sri Lanka at Kolkata in 2009.
The initial perception about Kohli was not always favourable and with members of India’s Fab Four still ruling the roost - he had to wait for three more years to play his first Test match in 2011.
The Indian captain has often made his love for Test cricket widely known and led India to the first final of the World Test Championship, which they lost to New Zealand. The recent dip in form - the master batsman hasn’t had an international century in any format for nearly two years now - sees Kohli in a somewhat unaccustomed fifth position in ICC Test batsmen’s rankings - with some of his long standing rivals for the mantle of top batsman - Kane Williamson (New Zealand), Joe Root (England), Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne (Australia) occupying first to fourth positions, respectively.
With three Tests still to go against England, Kohli still has time to play catch-up...