If Anyone Can Break Sachin’s Records, It’s Virat: Sandeep Patil
Sandeep Patil writes about the evolution of Virat Kohli that he has witnessed over the years.
(This story has been republished from The Quint’s archives to mark the occasion of Virat Kohli’s 30th birthday on 5 November.)
I first met Virat when he was just in his teens. Back in 2004, his name used to crop up in discussions when I was the India A coach. It was the beginning of the Dhoni era and I remember I used to keep wondering why everybody would keep mentioning this Delhi boy’s name, until I actually saw him during Under 19 camp at NCA (National Cricket Academy) Bangalore.
As India A coach I was asked by BCCI to have a look at the team. My first impression of Virat was that of a bratty young boy, full of joy and excitement. He appeared too restless and fidgety, as if every second he wanted to prove something or the other. I had seen many such young talented players over the years, and also seen most of them vanish as the years went by.
To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to Virat Kohli back then. He came into the limelight with the victory in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2008. But in a true sense he caught the notice of selectors with his exploits in domestic and IPL tournaments.
A Rare Breed Like Sachin
I can easily say now that Virat is a rare-breed cricketer like Colonel CK Nayudu, Tiger Pataudi, Bishen Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, GR Vishwanath, and Dravid.
India is lucky to have produced many such legends over the years and I am delighted to say that Virat Kohli not only joined this list of elite players but also overshadowed them.
Who will forget that shocking and sad incident that happened to a young Virat Kohli when his father died while he was playing a crucial Ranji game. But Virat being Virat, took the field immediately after performing the rites the next day and scored 90 runs. Only legends can face and fight such battles in life.
Virat Was Very Close to Me During My Stint as NCA Director
During my stint as NCA director, Virat Kohli and I met regularly. He always used to call me and discuss every minute detail of his progress during the period. In these years, I saw him change from a young brat to a mature young man.
His selection in the Indian team made him realise the extraordinary talent and potential he possessed.
However, a player only becomes a legend when they are able to use the talent they have to perfection and to their own benefit, which Virat has done brilliantly.
The three years I spent as NCA director and in my four years as Chairman of the Selection Committee, I saw Virat taking big strides. For me he appeared to be a combination of his seniors at the time – Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dravid and a bit of Ganguly all put together.
Choosing Virat to Lead India
In my cricketing career I was lucky enough to know and play with many great cricketers but the change in temperament and attitude that I saw in Virat over the years has been incredible.
The best thing about him is that after becoming the Indian captain, he not only changed himself but also changed the entire Indian cricket team. Virat has brought new energy, he has set different goals. Today, he is truly a powerhouse of world cricket. But to achieve these heights the sacrifices he’s made are unbelievable. His mannerisms have changed, his tone has changed, his attitude has changed as has his diet. He has attained the right fitness levels, and above all, his intent has changed. The aggression which he shows on the field has placed him above everyone.
If anybody can break Sachin Tendulkar’s records it will only be Virat Kohli. The tattoo he has of a warrior says it all. The fact that he enjoys the game and is passionate about it will surely take him to even greater heights in his career.
(Former India cricketer Sandeep Patil played 29 Tests and 45 ODIs from January 1980 to May 1986. Patil scored 1,588 runs in Tests and 1,005 runs in ODIs. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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