It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
If there is one person in the current Indian cricket team lineup who can do no wrong, it is Virat Kohli. Who can deny this after watching him win the match for India against Pakistan the other day at the ICC T20 World Cup. The cricketer has been a delight to watch all through this year. His power packed performance in the IPL coupled with his consistent ODI centuries and his notching up of runs at the current ICC T20 World Cup have convinced even his staunchest critics that the man is not a fluke. So much so that he was even awarded the ODI Cricketer of the Year at the ICC Awards a couple of weeks ago.
However, the question that needs to be asked is this. Has Virat Kohli made enough of a name for himself to show that he has well and truly arrived? Is he an integral cog of the team now? Looking at his achievements over the past 12 months will suggest these are redundant questions. However, let us analyse Kohli the man and Kohli the team man to arrive at a conclusion.
As an individual and as a cricketer, Kohli has proved he has the focus and the temperament to reach, and more importantly, stay at the top of the team. He has also shown willingness to adapt to different formats of the game within minimal time. In the process, he has left behind several other luminaries of the team such as Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and M S Dhoni to show that his temperament and adaptability are his most valued USPs.
Kohli has also blown away the competition to bits. This sounds incredible because only a year ago, there were a bunch of talented cricketers waiting to make their mark on the world arena. Cheteshwar Pujara was widely being hailed as the next best number three batsman to take over from Rahul Dravid. Suresh Raina was touted to fill up the boots of wristy VVS Laxman by now and Rohit Sharma was widely favoured to be the team’s big hitting batsman. Almost each of them is still trying to prove his worth to the Indian side currently. While Pujara is now looked at as a Test matches fixture, Raina has made a mark only in the shorter formats of the game. Rohit Sharma continues to flash and dazzle sometimes but his inconsistent performances have left selectors and fans leaving much more to be desired from him.
The Indian team is also going through a transition period. Much like the Australian team a few years ago, stalwarts from the team such as Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman have quit from the game, leaving a big void to be filled. Credit must be given to Kohli for keeping up the performance of the team by stepping up when he was needed the most. His golden period in the game has coincided with the time when the team needs a new star and a consistent performer. Little wonder then that various brands have now spotted him as the next big thing in Indian sports and lined up a number of products for him to endorse.
The only area where he has fallen short of expectations is in his professional conduct. Kohli is known to be fiercely aggressive and lets his heart rule on the cricket field as well. Ugly instances of him showing his middle finger to the crowd and constant swearing have become the proverbial monkey on his back. However, senior players opine that as long as he can score the runs he’s scoring and doesn’t cross the ICC Code of Conduct rulebook too many times, his natural aggression should not be curbed. Many also feel that his cricketing genius and temperament go hand-in-hand and must be accepted as such. However, this is certainly an area he can look into and improve his record.
So, are we looking at a world class player? All indications would say yes. When the great Indian middle order was working its magic across rival teams a few years ago, many of us wondered who would ever fill their boots. In Virat Kohli, we have found at least one such cricketer. May his tribe increase!
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