Virat Kohli at 500: 111 Tests, 274 ODIs, 115 T20Is and a lot of intensity | Crickit
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Virat Kohli at 500: 111 Tests, 274 ODIs, 115 T20Is and a lot of intensity

By, Mumbai
Jul 21, 2023 08:55 AM IST

Kohli's inextinguishable passion as a player, as a person, makes his passage to 500 India matches all the more fascinating

As an athlete, to be able to represent your country for 15 years is no mean feat. Not only is it a testament to your skills, it also reflects your strength in character. Virat Kohli has undoubtedly been one of the finest role models in his generation and now, at 34, he’s achieved a milestone that only a handful have before him.

India's Virat Kohli prepares to walk out to bat (AFP)
India's Virat Kohli prepares to walk out to bat (AFP)

With India taking on West Indies in the second Test at Port of Spain, Kohli becomes just the 10th cricketer in history, and fourth from India after Sachin Tendulkar (664), Rahul Dravid (504) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (535), to compete in 500 international games.

It’s a monumental accomplishment, more so when one factors in the sort of personality Kohli is. He's often spoken about leaving it all out there and is as intense a player as they come, putting his body on the line each time he shows up. He’s never been just another player on the field, never been someone you wouldn’t notice. In fact, his aggression, his animated manners during battle, have always been unique for a cricketer of his stature.

Kohli's genius with the bat ensured the spotlight was always on him, but it’s his inextinguishable passion as a player, as a person, that makes his journey to 500 matches all the more fascinating.

“I’m really grateful,” Kohli told bccitv. “I feel very blessed that I’ve had such a long journey playing for India, and such a long Test career because I’ve had to work really hard for it. It makes you feel happy about the hard work you’ve put in, to see the longevity in the game and the results over the years as well. So yeah, I’m very grateful.”

As India captain, if Sourav Ganguly showed how to be fearless and if Dhoni showed how to win the big moments, Kohli showed a generation of players how to give it your all in every moment. To always believe till the last ball is bowled. To never let the fire burn out.

The physical and mental toll such intensity can take is hard for one to fathom. But Kohli has stayed true to himself throughout. And to add to his credit, he’s played this way despite being the talisman of his team for most of his career. Despite having that burden of expectations.

Additionally, he has also managed an Indian Premier League career which demands two months of exhausting travel across the country each year. Along with 111 Tests, 274 ODIs and 115 T20Is, he also has 237 IPL games to his name.

“It’s a terrific achievement to play the number of games he has,” said Dravid, former India captain and current head coach. “It’s a reflection of his ability, adaptability, fitness, desire, hunger and passion. So many things come into the equation when you talk about longevity. If you slip up on any of these areas, you probably won’t be able to have as long a career as Virat has had and achieve the milestones he has.”

He added: “I think his performances have been very impressive. Just the way he’s been able to play all three formats of the game, adapt to each one of them, and maintain such a high standard. He’s been thrown so many challenges, with different kind of bowlers demanding different kind of skills. If you want to play for as long as he has and put in those kind of performances, you need to tick all those boxes. He has done that and he continues to do so, which is great to watch. There’s no doubt he’s been a great inspiration to a lot of young Indian boys and girls, and even in this team he continues to be one.”

As far as batting is concerned, Kohli will surely go down as one of the greatest in Indian cricket. In Tests, he’s the fifth-highest run-getter for India and the only one with seven double-centuries to his name. In ODI’s, he was the fastest-ever to reach 12,000 runs, he’s the fifth-highest scorer in history, and is just three short of Tendulkar’s all-time record of most tons (49). And in T20Is, he’s the highest run-getter, has the most player of the series awards (7), and most half-centuries (37).

Kohli’s phenomenal feats as a batter, his mastery as a chaser and class across formats, will always be remembered. But again, one hopes his sheer thirst for excellence, for as many as 500 international games, is celebrated too. In terms of fitness and attitude, he’s brought about a revolution in Indian cricket. And by the looks of it, he doesn’t seem to be in the mood to slow down any time soon.

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