New Delhi: On Wednesday, Virat Kohli notched up his fourth century in IPL 9 against KXIP. In no time, Kohli was compared to greats such as Donald Bradman for his average and Sachin Tendulkar for his consistency.
On television, while many claimed that it is his newly tweaked technique that is bearing fruit, some said that Kohli is simply in the zone.
But the ones who have literally seen Kohli’s rise from being a teenager to what he is at the international level currently, are simply in awe.
“We knew he had the potential in him to be a successful cricketer at the international level but never knew he would become this big a player so soon. It is something which surprises us and it is phenomenal. His attitude to always improve and achieve is the only thing which has taken him to the next level, literally,” says Munish Bali, who was one of the India U-19 coaches when Kohli led the team to a World Cup victory in 2008.
Bali says Kohli wanted to achieve and it was visible in his approach. “I remember that for the first two games against Papua New Guinea and South Africa, Kohli didn’t get to bat because those teams got out on low scores. But his passion to perform was unmatchable and he produced a match-winning knock against West Indies in a tough situation.
“He scored a brilliant hundred and saved the side from being 72/3 and took the total to over 260. That was Kohli for you and that one knock not only showed his temperament but the zeal to achieve,” Bali says.
Another trait that Bali remembers is Kohli’s motivated and pumped-up nature. “The Kohli that you see on TV is not a transformed Kohli. In fact he was always like that. He would be motivated and loved to talk cricket. In matches, he would always engage us in what team combinations should we play or doing changes in batting order according to the situation. It showed his involvement in the game and how deeply he would think as a cricketer,” Bali explains.
‘Hungry for success’
Former India pacer and Delhi skipper Amit Bhandari, under whom Kohli made his List A debut for Delhi, says the youngster had the hunger to succeed. “Both Kohli and Ishant Sharma made their debut under my captaincy. Kohli, especially had been called in to the side after he scored a double hundred against Punjab in the U-17 that year. As youngsters, Kohli was hungry for success and his ability to adjust to every condition made him a special talent.
“Uski kuch karne ki bhookh ne usse kahan se kahan pahuncha diya,” Bhandari says.
Kohli’s debut games for Delhi weren’t as successful as he got out on 10 in the Ranji trophy against Tamil Nadu and didn’t bat against Services in List A. His attitude to do well helped his cause.
“Attitude towards the game plays the main role for any cricketer and Kohli had that. Technique is a smaller factor in his success but his determination to do well has seen him rise,” says former Test cricketer Madan Lal.
“Reaching the international level and performing are two things but if you have an attitude of ‘how far I want to reach’, there is no stopping you. Kohli always had that as a child and he is even hungrier to score runs,” Lal adds.