Virat Kohli – From Delhi Grounds To Poster Boy Of World Cricket – The Daily Connection

Virat Kohli is just one century short of equalling Sachin Tendulkar’s record 49 ODI hundreds. He is celebrating his 35th birthday today.

Updated: November 5, 2023 10:01 AM IST

By Sunny Daud

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Virat Kohli has been in brilliant form in the ongoing ODI World Cup 2023 for India. (Image: ICC)

Imagine 66,000-odd people screaming ‘Happy Birthday Virat Kohli’ at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. Surreal, isn’t it? The spotlight will be on former India captain Kohli, who will be celebrating his 35th birthday at the Mecca of Indian cricket when India take on South Africa in an ODI World Cup 2023 encounter. Having already secured a spot in the semifinals, the out of this game doesn’t make much difference to both teams, apart from who finishes in the top two.

Kohli is the poster boy of world cricket. The right-hander who first came into the limelight after leading India to the U-19 World Cup title in 2008, has come a long way from playing in Delhi to becoming the global ambassador of the sport. He also became the first Indian to hit 250 million followers on Instagram and is one of the most popular and influential athletes in the world.

After Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement in 2013, there was a notion among the Indian fans that the craze for the gentleman’s game would end but Kohli gave it a new dimension and made people stick to the game with his bat doing most of the talking. His beautiful cover drive and the on-field aggression took the game to the next level.

In pain or in happiness, Kohli has not let his cricket suffer. He lost his father when was 18, but that didn’t deter his love and passion for the game. After making his senior India debut in 2008, Kohli established himself as one of the vital cogs in the side and played crucial roles in India 2011 World Cup and 2013 ICC Champions Trophy-winning campaigns.

After MS Dhoni announced Test retirement in 2014, Kohli took over the captaincy and in less than a year led India had climbed to No.2 in the ICC Test rankings. Another key to Kohli’s success is his work ethic. He is one of the hardest-working cricketers in the world and is always looking for ways to improve.

Under Kohli’s leadership, India became a force to reckon with, across formats, beating the likes of Australia and England in their own den. But more than just his batting records, Kohli will be remembered for his impact on Indian cricket so much so that his knock during the T20 World Cup match against Pakistan at the MCG in 2022 still gives goosebumps.

Chasing 159, India were four down inside the powerplay but Kohli fought the lone battle which at one time looked impossible. Notably, Kohli’s masterclass stopped online Diwali shopping for an hour during his batting that day as over 1.8 crore people streamed the match on Disney Hotstar.

That was the day when Kohli soared and 90,293 people at MCG roared.