Virat Kohli has grown in stature as a top-order batsman © Getty Images

 

By Venkat Balantrapu

 

He came, he saw and he conquered the hearts of millions of Indian cricket fans.  This is the story of Virat Kohli, the shining star of Indian cricket.

 

Immediately after leading India to the U-19 World Cup victory, Kohli got a call to play for the senior Indians. It’s measure of this confidence and maturity that he proved himself worthy in a team of heavyweights. He came in as stop-gap for the injured Virender Sehwag in 2008 and grabbed his chances to raise hope as India’s principle hope to take the batting mantle from the ageing seniors.

 

Rarely has he failed to justify his place in Team India’s playing XI. At times when players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were unavailable, Kohli has held the fort with supreme confidence. He is one batsman who has convincingly carried his recent form not only into the warm-up matches, but also into the World Cup match. Along with Sehwag, Kohli’s unbeaten century avenged India’s 2007 loss to Bangladesh.

 

Kohli was hardly one year old when Tendulkar made his debut for India. Today, he stands tall alongside the maestro when it comes to the expectations of the fans. Kohli’s solidity gives confidence to Sehwag, Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh to play attacking cricket in case of early fall of wickets and enable guys like Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan to create mayhem at the death.

 

In Kohli, India has a cool and level headed frontline batsman who knows how to preserve his wicket under any situation. His maturity beyond his young age indicates he is India’s future Mr. Wall.

 

India has undoubtedly found a future star in him who seems to have understood the language of taming different attacks in different conditions. The day is not far when the India’s “Fab Four” will not be around. But in Kohli, India is fortunate to have the first quality replacement in place.

 

Credit should go to Dhoni who has seen the rising star in Kohli, similar to Sourav Ganguly grooming today’s stars like Yuvraj, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan in their formative years.  Dhoni backed Kohli for the No. 4 and the result is a spectacular century on debut in the World Cup.

 

Dhoni has won the confidence of his captain by consistently proving his credential right through 2010. Bailing out Delhi from a precarious situation in 2005, leading India to U-19 World Cup triumph in 2008 and cementing his place in the playing XI for India through consistent performances are only the initial steps of a promising career ahead.  In him, India has a future captain as well, certainly for all the formats.

 

He is the fastest Indian to aggregate 1,000 runs in ODIs. Being ranked 13th, behind three other Indians in October, 2010, Kohli has now jumped to 2nd place in ICC ODI rankings, leaving all the three senior Indian batsmen behind him.

 

This ranking is prior to his hundred against Bangladesh. These are clear testimony to his commitment and unrivalled batting abilities at such a young age. Clearly, he has not only given the much-needed stability to the batting line-up, but also enabled Team India hold its head high!

 

The Kohinoor is very much in India; it’s renamed “Kohlinoor”!

 

(Venkat Balantrapu works in senior insurance management in Tanzania. He has deep passion for cricket and has played the game at various levels in India, and also in some of the African countries for over a period of two decades. Venkat writes on the game with the same passion for various websites and magazines)