Daring, tough and fiercely talented, Virat Kohli is arguably one of the finest batsmen that the country has produced. He has even drawn comparisons with the great Sachin Tendulkar. With a firm bottom-hand grip and the ability to smash balls landing on a particular area to any part of the ground at will and without much risk, Kohli has carved a niche of his own in Indian cricket. The king of chases as many of his fans have christened him, Kohli is a deeply hammered nail across all formats.
Kohli rose to fame when he captained India's victorious World Cup Under-19 side in Malaysia, in 2008. He was immediately propelled into the lucrative Twenty20 tournament - the Indian T20 League in 2008 and has since been a part of the Bangalore franchise. He also went on to become the captain of the team in 2012 and has continued to remain so since then. Devoid of noteworthy performances in the first edition, his domestic form still won him an India ODI cap on the tour to Sri Lanka in the same year.
The Delhi lad was initially deployed at various positions in the batting line-up, from replacing Virender Sehwag as an opener to accelerating in the middle-order. After just 25 ODI innings, he had already amassed 9 fifty-plus scores including two centuries. Kohli has always believed in backing his confidence and with the assurance evident in his shot selection and footwork, he was rarely found wanting with his technique even on bowling-friendly surfaces abroad. Once Kohli grew in maturity, especially in the ODIs, lean patches made way for eye-ball grabbing consistency.
The aggressive right-hander had a marvellous run in 2010 during which he amassed close to 1000 runs. He did not let his guard down in 2011 by scoring a century in his maiden World Cup match against Bangladesh and contributed decently right throughout the tournament. The wait for a Test cap ended when he was selected for the tour of the West Indies in 2011. The strongest evidence of his mettle came early in 2012 during his maiden ton in whites on India's tour to Australia; he put in an intrepid batting display while the others failed. His efforts paid off and Kohli was soon handed over the vice-captaincy of the Indian team ahead of the Asia Cup in 2012. He ended the tournament as the highest run-getter which included a whirlwind 183 off 148 balls against Pakistan.
Kohli captained the Indian ODI team for the first time against Sri Lanka in a Triangular ODI series in the Caribbean after an injury ruled MS Dhoni out for three ODIs. He then tasted the success of full-fledged captaincy in Zimbabwe where he marshalled the team in absence of Dhoni, who was rested and achieved a 5-0 clean sweep over the hosts. He added another feather to his cap when he registered the fastest ODI century by an Indian, off just 52 balls, against Australia in October 2013, Jaipur, helping India chase down a daunting target of 360.
In the following year, Kohli single-handedly took India to the finals of the ICC WT20 in Bangladesh but they lost against Sri Lanka at the last hurdle. The next few months would prove to be a massive learning curve for Kohli who was found wanting in the swinging conditions of England. James Anderson was his tormentor as he exposed a distinct weakness outside Kohli’s off stump. He was embarrassed but continued to remain a part of the Test side. In the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka in November 2014, Kohli led India to a 5-0 routing of the Lankans, making him the first Indian captain to have affected a 5-0 whitewash home and away in ODI cricket.
In December 2014, Kohli was made the captain of the Test side for India’s first Test against Australia in Adelaide but lost despite scoring centuries in both innings. On 30th December 2014, having saved the third Test for India against Australia at the MCG, Indian captain MS Dhoni announced his retirement from Tests with immediate effect citing too much strain as the reason, handing over the mantle to Virat Kohli for the fourth and final Test match. Kohli ended his disappointment of the England tour by scoring fantastically on the Australian tour, thereby squashing doubts of his class and technique to last in the longest version.
The year 2016 turned out to be Kohli’s best phase by some distance as he plundered runs across formats with his consistency reaching insane levels. He amassed over 2500 international runs at a mind-boggling average of 86.50 with seven centuries and 13 half-centuries from 40 innings. This included a ‘Man of the Tournament’ award in the 2016 World T20 where India made the semi-finals.
In addition to this, he also racked up a phenomenal 900 runs in the Indian T20 League with an incredible four centuries to his name. During the 2016-17 season, Kohli also became the first batsman to register a double century in four successive Test series, going past the legendary Sir Donald Bradman and Rahul Dravid, both of whom had managed it for three consecutive series. His exploits showed the world that he can dominate in all formats simultaneously without breaking a sweat.
After a dreamy 2016-17 season, Virat carried his form to the tour of South Africa in the early part of 2018. Though India lost the series 2-1, his 153 in the second Test at Centurion proved his potential once again in alien conditions. He even took his side to series wins in the limited-overs format, which was a first for India in South Africa. The lad from Delhi went on to become the fastest to reach 10,000 runs in ODI cricket when he reached it in his 205th innings, beating the record holder and compatriot, Sachin Tendulkar who did it in 259 innings.
It has not been all personal feats though, the national team has come leaps and bounds under his captaincy. They created history in early 2019 by becoming the first-ever Indian side to register a Test series win over Australia in Australia.
Virat rather had a modest 2019 World Cup outing as a batsman, he scored 5 consecutive half-centuries but it came as a big surprise that a batsman of his stature didn't convert any into a hundred. Though under his leadership, India finished at the top of the points table in the group stages of the tournament, but their campaign ultimately ended after a close defeat against New Zealand in the semi-final.
In June 2021, India lost the 2021 ICC World Test Championship Final to New Zealand. This was Kohli's third defeat as captain in knockouts and finals of ICC tournaments. In September 2021, Kohli announced that he would step down from captaincy in T20Is following the 2021 ICC Men's T20 World Cup. In December 2021, Kohli was replaced by Rohit Sharma as India's ODI captain and soon after that, Kohli stepped down as India's Test captain as well, following the 2-1 Test series defeat during the tour of South Africa. He relinquished the captaincy of Bangalore too after the 2021 Indian T20 League.
Drawing comparisons to greats have never made Virat Kohli lose his work ethic. Having in mind his excellent fitness and ability to adapt to all formats without any fuss, it will not come as a surprise if he ends up owning most batting records by the time he brings the curtains down on his career.