He has emerged as the blue-eyed boy of Indian cricket. The runs and averages columns reflect the transition from a boy with attitude to a young leader in the eleven, The growing value of Virat Kohli’s image is also reflected in the vanity van parked at the Ferozshah Kotla on Thursday afternoon.
The young batsman is at his home ground, this time to shoot a commercial. Advertisement hoardings have been tweaked for the ad shoot as he arrives, escorted by a unit member carrying the umbrella to shade him from the October sun. But the 23-year-old is conscious he needs to maintain his batting touch as well.
Not many in-form India players play Ranji matches; they often prefer to take a break. It is usually the out-of-form players who play first-class games to get their touch back. Virat, however, thinks differently.
Despite being India's most successful batsman over the last rather disappointing one year for India, Virat is the first of the India stars from Delhi to confirm he'll be available for the opening tie against UP from November 2.
"Yes, I'll definitely play the Ranji Trophy," said Virat, as he took a break from the shoot. The batsman, who shot for the entire day, caught up with old acquaintances and greeted even canteen boys and others, asking one of them to get him a paan he used to get during his early days in the Delhi set-up. “It will be a pleasure to play for Delhi again.”
Virat averages around 62 in Tests, 73 in ODIs and 47 in T20 Internationals in 2012. He is in prime form and Delhi will get a huge boost. Those close to Kohli say the batsman feels the Ranji ties will be good practice ahead of the return Test series against England and Australia. And unli-ke Gautam Gambhir and Viren-der Sehwag, he is not playing in the Champions League.
But unlike Virat, his two senior Delhi team mates have struggled. The Delhi team management is hoping the opening duo also turns up, at least to get valuable practice in days’ games, and boosts the team. Victorious U-19 skipper Unmukt Chand is also part of the Delhi Daredevils squad. "We are hoping that all three will be available for the first two games," said team coach Sanjeev Sharma.