It was in the 90’s, when a former Indian spinner thought of starting a cricket academy in Paschim Vihar. Neither the game was in the air nor were the kids crazy about it. But the spinner was firm on his resolution. He opened a cricket academy and got the raw potential to nourish on the very first day itself. In a locality where pushing their kids to be an entrepreneur was the real deal, cricket never got that attention and support from people. All the parents looked towards academy as an extracurricular class in summer but Mr. Kohli had something else in his mind. He was there for a long run. He truly wanted his children to pursue their passion as he believed they were immensely talented. He walked in to the academy with his kids- Vikas and Virat. That marked the rise of a legend in Indian cricket.
The coming years weaved a completely different story. Though the cricket coaching was emphasized for the elder son, the passion for game seemed to fall off his priority list. But nine year old Virat made sure he makes the most of it. He strived hard right from the age of nine to make his dream come true. He made a firm mark since his first few days in the academy. He would step out and slog every bowler to his heart content; he would fulfill his desire of hitting every ball to the boundary by hook or crook. Though the coach overlooked his aggression thinking him to be under aged, Virat took utmost care of not letting his performance down. As his wild swing started cracking his weapon it became difficult for Mr. Kohli to manage the expenses with his middle-class salary. Stepping into it, the coach used his influence and a contract was signed with a leading sports company to provide Virat with their bats. The guys there doubted Mr. Kohli’s vision for such a huge investment in Virat’s bats but he just chuckled off. Virat proved everyone wrong in coming years. Neither his age nor his aggression came as a hurdle in his path of progress. He just kept going.
“I do talk to him from time to time about controlling his aggression, whenever I feel he has overdone it, but generally, he likes to give it back there and then,” says Virat’s elder brother Vikas. “Discipline never attracted Virat. Aggression was his forte. He would try stepping out and slogging if bowlers narked him with their deliveries. If that didn’t work, he would resort to sledging. It’s a bad habit of Virat that he’s still trying to get rid of. He makes sure he gets respect from the bowlers. If he doesn’t; he steals it.” Vikas adds. But, he steals the show too at the same time. That’s Virat, as his name describes him, high and strong.
“He’s an utterly different person off the field as his aggression is never the concern,” says Vikas. “Everyone around him will talk about his jolly mood and sense of humor. He would make you laugh, do a bit of fun with you, whatever it takes to make sure you’re having good time with him,” he adds. He talks about the one happened in Rajouri garden when asked about the instances of Virat’s humorous mood. Once he took his coach and elder brother for a treat at Rajouri garden. He had the latest 02 series cell phone that would sync with any television set to act as its remote. He started playing with it and increased the volume of TV till all customers left in anger. He was to be scolded for that but the incident made everyone laugh as the perplexed owner is still unaware of what happened to his television that day. “Such is the Virat’s nature. I said him do whatever you wish to but make sure we won’t get beaten up,” said Vikas.
Virat is always referred as a young guy with loads of ego and attitude. Vikas denies the fact and says he’s just like all other young guys. “Everyone of his age would like to sport a tattoo or spyke their hairs. Virat isn’t an exception to that. He has money and he likes to get dressed. He likes to get captured in photographs and feature on the cover pages of magazines. It’s every guy’s dream. Just because he’s a celebrity, calling it his attitude would be incorrect. And any young guy, if taunted unnecessarily would reacted the same way; everyone would get aggressive,” says Vikas.
Virat got his arms tattooed when he was of 14. His state coach slammed him calling it to be an act of indiscipline. Virat cited examples of his contemporaries, Kevin Pieterson and Shikhar Dhawan sporting a tattoo but the coach was in no mood to forgive him. Virat was endowed with an ultimatum; either he has to prove himself in the next match or else he would have to sport a full sleeve jersey henceforth. Virat swiftly scored a half century in the next match and continued flaunting his tattoo with pride on field. Another such incident is worth recalling. Virat due to his one such act of indiscipline, was threatened to be excluded from the team. He realized his mistake and expressed regret to the coach. He promised to make a worthwhile contribution to his side. He came to bat when Delhi was 60/5 and played an innings of 230. That knock made everyone notice his talent. Two months later, another couple of double centuries and the entire spotlights were fixed on Virat.
We all are aware of Virat being called ‘Cheeku’ by his mates. We have heard Dhoni citing it number of times in field. His hairstyle is the reason behind it. Yep! Few years back while playing for Delhi, he sported a spyke and went to his coach to show his new hairdo. He had probably done by applying lot of gel and his coach said he was looking like a funny bunny from a famous comic, ‘Champak’. That’s how he got his nick name, ‘Cheeku’. Everyone from his Delhi team gets nostalgic after hearing MS mouthing that on the stump mike.
Kohli grew very fast as a cricketer. His development can be termed by the fact that he’s being looked as a future captain of India. He got his limelight when India won under 19 world cup in his captaincy. India was bundled for 159 against South Africa in the finals. Africans were too excited in their lunch time. They were the winners apparently as India’s scorecard was pathetic. Virat heard an African saying how coveted he was feeling for a victory over India. He went to him and said that the match was still not over. He called all the boys and advised them to fight for the best. He set them to fire with his inspiring words and as we all know, history was created at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The recent crusade in Australia proved to be one of the worst for India. But Kohli was no less than a champion; he was in the thick of his good form. A huge tremor was felt by Sri Lankans as Kohli hammered their bowlers to every corner of the field. It was a legendary knock that came out of his bat and led India to a victory with a bonus point. He addresses his fans and opponents by saying, “My playing style is innately aggressive. If I try and be soft, I’ll not be able to my natural game. I like to keep the energy levels up and take the opposition by the scruff to the neck. Sometimes, perhaps, I tend to overdo it, but I’m also the first one to own up and say sorry.”
Kohli admits his mistakes that he committed initially in his career. Huge adulation followed him after his fantastic debut in IPL 08 with a world cup win behind him. He was endowed with numerous endorsements and he basked in limelight of the glamour. His game suffered due to it; he lost his focus and was unable to display his good performance. “I made some wrong choices early in life, but I was young and everything came to me all of sudden. I’m still learning and in a way, it’s good that I’ve seen it all and come out of it at such an early age. I think it’s more important to see if you’ve correct yourself from the wrong ones you have committed. I have learnt my lesson,” he says.
The reason for the sudden change in his outlook was the sacrifices he had made for the game. He was always attached to the game, mentally and emotionally. Kohli lost his father while playing a Ranji match against Karnataka in 2006. His mate Punit Bisht recalls, “We came to know his father’s demise in morning. Virat was completely broken. The skipper called us and told to shoulder more responsibility as he was not in position to bat. He didn’t come for morning practice session and stayed in dressing room. We left him alone as he was sitting quiet and sobbing. He came to bat that day and played a fantastic innings. We played in complete silence and built a 200 run partnership. He was out in the nineties and was quite sad at his dismissal. He was not out but a bad decision by umpire made him walk towards the pavilion. He was provoked at the umpire as a ton would have been a fitting tribute to his father.”
The overnight innings of 183 against the Pakis was one of his bests. He came to bat after an early dismissal and stayed till the end, taking India near to the victory. Not just aggression; the perfection too lies within. A great knock, a loud cheer, all the possible limelight yet the guy was humble last night and picked up his trophy with delight and gratitude. The cricket academy where he learned the basics of cricket still cherishes his legends. The coach of academy mentions, “It’s been 14 years now for my academy. Today, many parents come here with a request to turn their child into another Virat Kohli. I tell them just one thing, there was and can be only one Virat Kohli.”
Information courtesy: indian express