Why he matters: An icon in every sense, his batting exploits have already placed him in the pantheon of greats, but it’s his off-field transformation, from an aggressive young lad to a fit leader prepared to go to war for his Men in Blue, that’s made him the talk of the town for over a decade. As India harbours hopes of lifting the World Cup once again, Chandresh Narayanan elucidates why King Kohli will be the lead star.
Nearly a year after a dose of ‘Super Soldier Serum’ transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America, India witnessed a similar change—but in reality. Our very own avatar of the widely popular Avenger emerged in the form of Virat Kohli. With a vow to no longer be the chubby
upstart from Delhi, he began to undergo a gradual transformation, having stolen hearts for a quote after India’s 2011 World Cup triumph, when he was ready to carry batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar during the team’s celebration around the field…
It was at this juncture that Kohli began to truly transform into an athlete, someone who could compete with the best in the world not just in cricket but sports in general. He trained like a beast, followed a mindful diet and emerged as the poster boy of a fit India. His diets, fitness regimes and general attitude to cricket underwent a sea change, leading to a deluge of runs across formats.
For a country looking for a superstar to worship post Tendulkar, Kohli emerged out of nowhere after being relatively low-key for a while. His transformation into ‘Captain India’ was complete when he led India first in Tests and then in the white-ball format. His antics on the field also made it evident that a new Team India was prepared to fight fire with fire. Kohli took up the battle on behalf of his side and never looked back. India transformed as a Test squad under him, as he invested in a fitness culture and a fast-bowling strategy. Soon enough, India rose up the ranks in Tests, taking down behemoths like Australia, England and South Africa in the long format in their own backyard.
Even in One-Day Internationals, Kohli went from strength to strength with the bat, becoming a chase-master in ODIs, a run machine in T20s and a champion opener of the Indian Premier League with his consistency. He was truly a man on a mission, both on and off the field, as the most recognisable face Indian cricket has had over the past decade.
While Kohli may no longer be the skipper, he’s still a leader with his general presence around the side. He’s an idol that young cricketers, both male and female, look up to not only for his devotion to the sport and talent, but also for his inspiring transformation and discipline.
In the recent past, Kohli’s runs may have dried up a tad bit, but there’s never a doubt that if India must emerge as the ODI world champion once again, it’s Kohli who will lead the way with the bat. And just like Captain America, he just needs one clarion call “Assemble” to have the entire nation and the Men in Blue rally behind him.
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