Passion, Aggression, Consistency: Virat Kohli’s Secret to Success
This story was first published on 22 October 2017 and is now being reposted from The Quint's archives on the occasion of Virat Kohli's 30th birthday on 5 November.)
A decade ago, it was hard to imagine that someone could match or even come close to equaling Sachin Tendulkar’s reputation, fame, and popularity in a country where he’s been worshipped as the ‘God of Cricket’. His devotion to the game, performance, and image, both on and off the field, were the reasons he won billions of hearts.
However, the beginning of the last decade saw the arrival of another Indian player on the big stage, one who went on to establish that Tendulkar was not going to be the last such worshipped cricketer to have graced the golden pages of cricket history.
That player was Virat Kohli, the current captain of the Indian cricket team.
Learning to Channel His Aggression & Passion in the Right Direction
On the onset, Kohli’s journey with the Indian team that started back in 2008, wasn’t a very easy one. Despite his mind-boggling performances with the willow in hand, he was questioned numerous times for his attitude, uncontrolled aggression, and short temper on the field.
However, the way it came out in intense situations made it work against Virat more often than not.
He was seen as India’s future captain from the very beginning of his career. The first instance of that was evident when an 18-year-old Kohli led the Indian team to claim the U-19 World Cup title in 2007 beating South Africa in the final.
The potential was always there, but his uncontrolled emotions meant he was not the right man to lead the senior Indian team as it’s a totally different ball game.
However, in spite of his shortcomings, he showed the good quality of learning from his own mistakes. He started realising that one needs to be in control of himself in order to become a better player and fulfill his potential of being the leader one day.
For that, taking command of our own emotions is a very important thing. Otherwise, rivals will always walk away taking advantage of the shortcoming.
Once he channeled and toned down his attitude and aggression, he became a much calmer person who had control over his own actions. There was no looking back for him since then.
The curve of his improvement never took a downward drift ever. Even if flaws crept up into his game suddenly, he would sort them out sooner rather than later, with hard work and persistence. The hunger for improvement and hatred for mistakes kept him sailing in the right direction.
Hunger to Improve Made Kohli an Epitome of Consistency
The consistency that Virat has shown as a batsman over the years in ODIs is unmatched. None of the contemporary players come even close to emulating his consistency. Joe Root, Steve Smith, and Kane Williamson come close to emulating it, but, somehow, Virat is far ahead in the league.
His year-by-year batting average in ODIs shows how consistent he has been. His average dipped below 40 only twice in his ODI career. Once was in his debut year in 2008 when he played just five innings amassing 159 runs, and again in 2015 when things didn’t go well for Kohli as he scored just 623 runs in his 20 innings – which is way below his standards.
Apart from that, he has always averaged around and over 50 in the other years with 2016 and 2017 being spectacularly good. In 2016, he scored 739 runs in 10 innings at an average of 92.37 and carried the good form in 2017 as well, scoring 1,197 runs in 23 innings so far.
Moreover, Kohli has established his authority against each and every opposition in the world.
His batting averages against different oppositions show that he has been pretty much ruthless against each and every one of them. The average against England only seems to be a bit low as compared to others. But, an average of 40 against any opposition can’t be termed as poor by any means. It’s still a healthy and decent average.
A major setback in Kohli’s career was his tour of England back in 2014 when the English seamers took advantage of his poor technique and dismissed him for cheap scores throughout the tour. However, he improved on his next tour and also produced outstanding performances in each and every condition overseas.
One can say without doubt that Virat Kohli has enormous influence on India’s winning chances in a match.
However, whenever India has lost in his presence, 69 times to be precise, he has averaged just 33.11 in those matches. That sums up how Kohli’s performance affects India’s chances of victory.
There’s a reason why Kohli is called the ‘chasemaster.’ And numbers tell exactly why.
But in the 47 matches that India have batted first and won, Kohli has scored 2,195 runs at an average of 52.26, which is excellent but way below his average while chasing. Moreover, 17 out of the 25 centuries that have resulted in India’s victories have come while chasing. No wonder why he is and must be called the ‘King of Chase.’
Better Cricketer With Captaincy
The 28-year-old has taken his game a notch up with the additional responsibility of captaincy. In the 40 matches that he had captained till October 2017, he averages 73.10 with 2,047 runs to his name as compared to his average of 51.29 in 159 matches without shouldering the responsibilities of captaincy. His strike rate has also improved to 99.03 from 89.39 after being the captain.
Moreover, the mindset that he has brought into the team and the way he is leading hasn’t been seen in any Indian captain before. And the results are there for the showing.
Kohli is now a legend of modern day cricket. He’s always striving for excellence, trying to keep himself fit with rigorous training and also instilling a fearless and winning mentality in the minds of his teammates. His reflection is clearly visible in the Indian team at the moment and the team members also admire and respect him a lot.
Kohli is certainly a one-of-a-kind of this generation. With this journey, he has surely epitomised passion, aggression, and consistency.
(Prasenjit Dey is a freelance cricket writer. He can be reached at @Prosen02. The opinions expressed are the author’s own and The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same)