Virat Kohli is currently captaining India in the ODI series against Sri Lanka © Getty Images
Virat Kohli is currently captaining India in the ODI series against Sri Lanka © Getty Images

Sydney: Nov 8, 2014

India’s star batsman Virat Kohli is reportedly the world’s most popular cricketer currently even though his captain MS Dhoni would still have him covered if they compared bank balances. The talented 26-year-old has become a social media phenomenon since consolidating his position, as India’s captain-in-waiting, connecting with young fans on a level no other player can match.

At last count Kohli had more than 18 million Facebook likes, well ahead of his captain Dhoni, who ranks second with just over 11 million, reported. After passing the 3 million Twitter follower mark in April this year he now has 4.34 million, that’s an average of almost 7000 new followers a day and again miles in front of second-ranked Dhoni’s 3.18 million.

While all cricketers continue to live in awe of Dhoni’s incredible 30 million dollars-a-year earnings, Kohli is most likely to replace him in the next few years. The rising batsman is making roughly half that figure at the moment and has big money deals with sponsors like Adidas and Toyota. He was ranked second in a list of the top 50 most marketable athletes in the world, behind Lewis Hamilton but ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Usain Bolt, compiled by Sports Pro earlier this year.

While he’s still best known in Australia for giving the crowd a one-fingered salute in Sydney in 2012, he does average 45 in eight Tests against the Aussies, which includes a maiden ton in Adelaide that was overshadowed by double centuries scored by Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke. But it’s in the short form of the game where Kohli really shines. He’s ranked third on the ICC one-day batting rankings behind South African duo AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, averaging 51 at a strike rate of more than 90, the report added.