Virat’s Legacy  

When India won the ICC under -19 World Cup in 2008, the coach W. V. Raman, the former Tamil Nadu opener, wrote in his report to the BCCI that the team’s captain will go onto play Test cricket and captain India’s senior team too. Virat Kohli is the boy’s name. Weeks after India had won the under-19 World Cup, the nation was venturing into uncharted territory, the IPL was lunched. Players who were part of India’s Youth World Cup team were drafted in by IPL franchises, business tycoon Vijay Mallaya opted for Virat Kohli. Since then, Virat has remained with the Bangalore franchise, for 14 years, most by a player.   

Now while the IPL had its fair share of boons; money, fame, rubbing shoulders with international stars and a highly competitive league, it also had its banes like after game parties. Virat enjoyed life.  

The Virat you see nowadays is the prime example of how an elite sportsman should look like. But in the good old days, he was chubby and being fit was the least concern of youthful exuberance.  

In August that year, in Dambulla, Virat made his international debut. There he found the best mentor a young player can wish for - Mahendra Singh Dhoni.   

The Indian captain put the youngster on the right track. Virat the party animal went to another extreme becoming a fitness freak. It took him a couple of years to find his feet in international cricket and Dhoni was prepared to give the young prodigy the long rope to come out of lean patches. This Virat did and went onto dominate the game as cricket’s best batsman for an extended period of time. He was world’s fastest batsman to score 10,000 ODI runs. By the way, he was also the fastest to 8000, 9000, 11,000 and 12,000 runs. His 43 ODI hundreds is only second to Sachin Tendulkar’s 49. It’s a matter of time King Kohli knocks off the Little Master.   

Dhoni groomed Kohli to be his successor and as captain Kohli took Indian team to the next level. Winning overseas consistently had been India’s problem for a while. Under Kohli it changed. They won Tests in England, Australia, South Africa and everywhere else. Kohli maybe not in the M.S. Dhoni class tactically. However, he set the standards for Indian cricket. The rest of the world have followed suit.  

The kilometer run and skinfold test came into the equation under Virat’s charge. In other words, fitness was given prominence like never before and everyone had to get on board if they were keen to represent India.  

Virat would lead by example. His training schedules were insane. He would wake up at 4am for a gym session and have another eight hours later. A study had been done as to which muscles were most used in cricket and gym sessions would cater to these particular muscles. This is taking cricket to new levels. Virat Kohli was the driving force. He would also avoid carbs like the plague. At times, he would go on for weeks without eating rice or rotti. His discipline levels were unimaginable. Not all agreed with his methods. Slowly dissent was growing too.  

During a tour of Sri Lanka a few years ago, Virat observed that there was a throw down coach in the opposition ranks by the name of Nuwan Seneviratna, who was sending down cricket balls at the speed of thunderbolts. Quietly Virat approached him. BCCI came up with an offer that paid ten times more than what Sri Lanka gave him. Nuwan grabbed it. Soon it was bye-bye SLC.  

Why do you think Virat hired Nuwan? Later that year, India were touring Australia and he wanted to stimulate what would it be like to face left-arm fast bowling of Mitchell Starc touching 150kmph. And Nuwan is left-handed. Australia conquered.

But before that there was another incident that tells you about Virat’s passion, commitment and focus. Nuwan was doing throw downs and one hit the Indian captain’s rib cage. Anyone else would have quietly retired to the dressing room. Not Virat. Nuwan, however, took off the intensity, dropping the pace considerably. Virat didn’t like this. He went towards Nuwan and gave him an earful saying that this is unacceptable. Few more bruises on the rib cage but eventually Starc was made to look like a pale shadow of his former self. 

Virat’s contributions to the game are many. But his legacy is that he took the game to a new level. A blueprint had been set and the game of cricket is now following it.