What Makes Virat Kohli Truly Great

When 18-year-old Delhi batsman Virat Kohli started his slow walk back after scoring a chanceless 90 that afternoon at Kotla, rival Karnataka players did not know whether to celebrate his innings or his dismissal. Kohli was on 40 at close of play on that team and his team staring at a follow-on with the last recognized pair in the middle. That morning, along with Puneet Bisht who scored 156, Kohli saw his side through to safety. But not many thought Kohli would be able to report at the dressing room, let alone bat.

He lost his father, Prem Kohi, 54, at 3am that morning.

His teammates were surprised when he came back to play. The team desperately needed him but they told him he was more needed at home. But he insisted: “I want to bat.”

When he was declared out at 90 before lunch, though the bat had brushed the pad as replays showed, his team was clearly out of trouble.

“That was a moment that changed me as a person. The importance this sport holds in my life is very, very high.” – Virat Kohli

Fact: The ‘18’ number on his backs reflects the day his father left this world (18th December).

“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” – William Arthur Ward

1 . Ability to Perform Under Pressure.

Undoubtedly he is the best player under pressure in the current cricketing world. You can always see him taking on pressure situations with gusto and leading from the front. In his own words:

“As a cricketer you don’t have a long career. So you need to cherish the opportunity that you get. For me stepping out on the cricket field is an opportunity, not a pressure situation. I look at it as the challenge that I need to overcome. It’s a feeling that it’s more addictive than anything else around you. After you get addicted, you want more and more of it.”

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2 . Adaptability

Adaptability is one quality which reveals excellence of a batsman. When it comes to Virat Kohli he is one of the best at adapting to any big match pressure, match situation, any pitch/conditions (bar England), any team and any bowling type. Virat Kohli’s fluid approach to the game is vivid for all to see as in how he adapts beautifully to all the three formats of the game – averaging over 50 in all formats at the time of this article. As a batsman if you want to be the complete package, your adaptability is what defines your greatness.

His yearn to continuously learn from his mistakes and improve his game day-by-day is the quality that makes him special. Here is one example that shows the same.

His weakness of fishing outside the off-stump was exposed by James Anderson when India Toured England in 2014. In Test Matches, he scored on 134 runs in 10 innings of 5 Match series with highest score of 39 at The Rose Bowl, Southampton. His poor form continued in ODI’s as well where he scored on 54 runs at a strike rate of 70.12 in 4 innings with highest score of 40. His highest score of the tour came in the final match of the tour, in the lone T20 where scored 66 runs.

But due to his hard-work and adaptability, he quickly fixed his weakness and changed his stance to come back strong against Sri Lanka at home (329 runs in 5 ODIs) and on the Tour Down Under, where he scored 692 runs in 8 innings with 4 hundreds and a fifty.

Here you can see changes stance in between the England tour – further proof of adaptability.

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3 . Attitude/Body Language & Aggression

There have been confrontations with players, journalists, umpires and even the fans and it’s become a sore point in India but Virat Kohli believes it plays an integral role in playing his natural game and helps him in score big when the team needs it the most.

“When I came in, I had tattoos, I used to dress up in a certain way, do things I felt were fine for me, but didn’t go towards the typical moral behavior of a cricketer in India. But I knew in my heart I was working hard at my sport. There is no particular moral code for how you should think and behave just because you are a cricketer.

“If you don’t see the results there then you have the right to criticize.” – Virat Kohli

Vivian Richards feels that one should not be too critical of the Indian Test captain’s on-field aggression as he possesses the “quality” to match his attitude.

“I see nothing wrong in Virat’s attitude. He is very different from Dhoni. I believe if you are showing passion and aggression on the field, you should have the game quality to match that. Virat has the quality. He can give back as good as he gets. I like people who have stomach for a good fight and Virat is one of them. Virat brings in a lot of vibrancy and the future of Indian cricket looks bright.” – Viv Richards

The media is now starting to compare him to the great Sachin Tendulkar, which in itself is a tribute to Kohli. Tendulkar was clearly a product of the old India, where the environment produced conservative cricketers. Though Tendulkar was a naturally attacking batsman, he was not unaffected by the trend as his career went along. In comparison, there is nothing conservative about Kohli, the “new-age Indian” cricketer.

Kohli possess a body language which portrays confidence and aggression. When he walks out, takes guard and starts his innings, you will never be able to sense or gauge his recent form. He strides out to bat like he owns the ground.

“To become a good player, you need talent. To become a great player, you need an attitude like Kohli.” – Sunil Gavaskar

4 . Control And Precision

The two qualities which stand out in Virat’s batting are the way he controls the game, especially while chasing, and the precision of his stroke-making. Virat’s body language is deceptive. He comes across as fidgety, twirling the bat before every delivery, checking his pads, flexing his neck, looking a bit restive… but there is profound calm inside which helps him play with amazing control. Nothing fazes him, whether it’s the regular fall of wickets at the other end or repeated failures of the other stars in the team.

His innate cricketing intelligence lets him zero in on the best response to a delivery and decide what stroke to play and how to play it. Thus, he places his strokes in the exact spot he wants them to go, piercing the field at will and driving the opposition crazy. His control makes his batting virtually risk-free. He has supple wrists, amazing hands and the fitness and physical requisites for the job. Some of his trademark strokes, like the slapped cover drive, the fierce cut, the lofted ones over mid-off and mid-on and the flick-drive between deep mid-wicket and long-on, are now part of cricket lore.

“I’ve never been this calm in my head. I am aiming for improvement not just as a cricketer but also as a person.” – Virat Kohli

5 . The Winning Edge

What makes Virat such a formidable player and feared competitor is his never-ending zeal for victory and the way he goes about achieving that goal. His ability to soak in pressure and, in fact, turn it into an advantage makes him the biggest challenge for bowlers the world over at this point.

Even when Virat was a novice in international cricket, he had displayed remarkable self-belief and the mindset of a champion. He goes into every battle with the firm belief that no task is His desire to be the best and then keep improving is what drives him and sets him apart. In one instance during an IPL match he injured his palm severely while fielding against KKR but still went out and scored a match-winning unbeaten 75 to see his team through.

“It’s a big split; my hand is starting to pain now, looks like I’ll get seven or eight stitches. But I don’t mind even 10 stitches as long as we keep winning,” Virat said after the match.

6 . Leadership

Kohli has led India to title triumph in the Under-19 World Cup in 2008. He has also done well captaining the Royal Challengers Bangalore leading stalwarts like Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers. In a recent interview, the great Michael Holding said, “captaincy could make Kohli an even better cricketer.” This was evident in the recently concluded bilateral series against England where he top the scoring charts with 655 runs in 5 innings and an average of 109.16 and led the team to five series wins in a row and a 18-match undefeated streak.

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