Irfan Pathan (R) and a young Virat Kohli in 2012. (Getty Images)
Irfan Pathan (R) and a young Virat Kohli in 2012. (Getty Images)

'When you opened the newspaper, he was everywhere': Pathan recalls how a young Kohli never 'sidelined cricket'

  • Former all-rounder Irfan Pathan, who has played alongside Virat Kohli during the latter's younger days, recalled his first impression of the batsman.
By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2021 08:24 PM IST

It's taken years of hard work and dedication for Virat Kohli to become a top batsman of today's generation. Starting off as a 19-year-old on 2008 when he first played for India, Kohli would have to wait for three years before breaking into the Test team. However, from there, Kohli only kept climbing higher.

The unbeaten 133 in Hobart where he took on Lasith Malinga or the career-best 183 against Pakistan shortly after enhanced his reputation as one of India's promising young batsmen, which today has transformed into him becoming not only the best all-format batsman of today's era but also the captain of the Indian cricket team.

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Former all-rounder Irfan Pathan, who has played alongside Kohli during the latter's younger days, recalled his first impression of the batsman. Pathan harked back to the time Kohli had began playing the IPL and remembered how the batsmen would enjoy himself to the fullest. However, having said that, Pathan mentioned that despite everything, Kohli would never take his focus off cricket.

"Whenever I used to see Virat Kohli in the IPL, I only saw one player. Someone who was young, has reached a certain level and is now enjoying himself on and off the field. The next morning when you opened the newspaper, he was everywhere," Pathan said in a video shared by Star Sports on Twitter. "But he never sidelined cricket, and always kept his focus. That's why you see Virat Kohli has become such a special player. It shows his commitment to the game."

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Shortly after leading India to Under-19 World Cup glory in 2008, Kohli made his India debut, opening the batting in an ODI series against Sri Lanka. In the fourth match of the series, Kohli registered his maiden half-century for India, scoring 54. Kohli would have to wait another 10 matches to score his first century for India, a knock of 107 also against Sri Lanka in Kolkata. In the 2011 World Cup opener, Kohli scored a hundred against Bangladesh, his first WC ton.

However, it was from late 2013 that Kohli really entered a different league. He scored a record-breaking century against Australia in an ODI Jaipur off 52 balls, registering the fastest ODI century by an Indian. From there, Kohli's stocks grew and he went on to become one of the finest batsmen of his generation, winning the ICC ODI Player of the Year award in 2012, 2017 and 2018. Kohli also holds the world record for being the fastest batsman to 8000, 9000, 10000, 11000 and 12000 runs in ODI cricket.

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