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7-min read

Happy 31st, Kohli: How an Aggressive Boy From Delhi Turned into India's Favourite Cricketer

As Virat Kohli celebrates his 31st birthday on Tuesday, here's a quick look back at his illustrious yet roller coaster of a journey.

Anurag Verma | News18.com

Updated:November 5, 2019, 10:06 AM IST
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Happy 31st, Kohli: How an Aggressive Boy From Delhi Turned into India's Favourite Cricketer
Image credits: CricketNext / Hotstar.

After playing more than a decade of cricket for India, Virat Kohli has not only cemented a place in the squad but also made a special place in the hearts of the cricket-loving countrymen and women.

It is perhaps Kohli's hunger, desire, and passion for the game that has made him one of the most celebrated cricketers in recent times.

From winning the U-19 World Cup in 2008 to leading the Indian cricket team, the Delhi boy has come a really long way. Kohli, who became the fastest batsman to hit the 10000 milestone in ODI last year, also shattered several records in the endeavour.

And when it comes to giving it back with words or gestures, Kohli's aggression has often landed him in a spot. Remember when he lost his cool and hurled abuses at a journalist? Or when he gave the Sydney crowd a middle finger treatment during the second Test against Australia in 2012?

But with great powers comes great responsibility. Kohli has, over the years, used his aggression to better the game and turned those haters into fans.

Even the 'God' of cricket believes so. “I noticed that spark and aggression in him, something which many guys were not fond of to be very honest. And there were many guys who were criticizing him for that. And today that has become the strength of the Indian team,” said maestro Sachin Tendulkar while speaking an event last year.

As Kohli turns 31 on Tuesday, let us relive the light-hearted moments when the Delhi boy stuck to his roots and displayed humility and immense character - that has helped him transform from a hostile cricketer to a mature leader that he is today.

1) Stood by his better half

When Kohli failed, it was his then-girlfriend who faced the heat. Bollywood actress and Kohli's wife Anushka Sharma often became the target of social media trolls every time her better half underperformed on the field.

The cricketer came out in defence of Sharma and wrote, "Shame on those people who have been having a go at anushka for the longest time and connecting every negative thing to her. Shame on those people calling themselves educated. Shame on blaming and making fun of her when she has no control over what i do with my sport. If anything she has only motivated and given me more positivity. [sic]"

2) Respect for his fans

When a young fan of Kohli requested him for a picture, "Virat, a picture please", the cricketer responded with a selfie outside of Trent Bridge cricket stadium in England's Nottingham last year.

Here's the selfie:

During 2019's 50-over World Cup in England, Charulata Patel, an 87-year-old Indian fan became an internet sensation after she caught the attention of viewers on television during the India- Bangladesh match at the ICC World Cup. After the match ended, Kohli along with Rohit Sharma went down to the stands of Edgbaston to meet her and the moment vent viral – with fans gushing in adulation over the cricketers’ humility.

Virat-Kohli-and-Charulata-Patel-6 Reuters image

3) Always stays in character

Earlier this year, in a World Cup contest against Afghanistan, Kohli was on his heels throughout the game, wearing his characteristic smile on occasions, and the broadcast cameras frequently captured "Ben Stokes" uttered from the mouth of the exuberant player.

Defending a modest score of 225, Kohli trusted his key bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami to deliver.

With 6/0 on the scoreboard, Shami gave a glimmer of hope to Indian fans when he trapped the dangerous Hazratullah Zazai in front of the wickets. The on-field umpire did not raise his finger and this was when Kohli went upstairs and asked for the third umpire's intervention.

The replays that played on the big screen weren't in India's favour too as the Decision Review System showed Shami's ball to Zazai had marginally pitched outside the leg-stump and India lost their important review early on. Kohli was livid.

The Indian captain argued with the umpire for a brief moment over the DRS rule before folding his hands and pleading with the official over the rule.

On chill days, Kohli is a sight to behold. Cue Jasprit Bumrah.

A video of Kohli imitating Bumrah during a training session ahead of India’s semi-final showdown against New Zealand went viral on the Internet.

And while it is virtually impossible to imitate Bumrah’s art of hurling dangerous yorkers, Kohli, a legend of his own, came as close as possible in enacting him.

4) Love for memes

Ahead of the vital New Zealand match during 2019 World Cup, Kohli posted a picture of himself with the hashtag #TrainingDay and asked Twitter to caption it.

And Kohli fans grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

5) Empathy for his counterparts

As strange as it may sound, Aussie and Indian fans were on the same page during their World Cup clash after Virat Kohli's unique yet classy gesture to the crowd that won him equal praises from both the cricketing nations.

Steve Smith and David Warner didn't have the rosiest of receptions from the English crowd ever since their return in the green and golden uniform. The duo was mercilessly subjected to constant boos and taunts from the fans in attendance in all their World Cup outings after they returned to the side, serving a 12-month ban for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal last year.

This, however, was against the liking of the Indian skipper Kohli, who on several occasions, gestured to the Indian crowd to stop booing Steve Smith and cheer for him instead.

6) Kohli's humble response to a journalist

Kohli displayed a different side of him during a press conference a few years ago. After hitting his maiden double century against Windies in the 1st test match in Antigua, Anil Kumble and captain Kohli addressed a press conference. While addressing the press meet, one of the reporters raised a question, addressing Kohli as 'Sir'. To which Kohli politely responded by saying, "Please don't call me sir. You are elder than me. Call me Kohli." Watch the video here:

7) When he adopted 15 canines

In 2017, Kohli visited Charlie's Animal Rescue Centre (CARE) in Bengaluru and adopted rescue dogs, including those who were paraplegic and chronically ill.

"It was simply unbelievable this morning to see Virat Kohli's car pulling up inside the gates of CARE. His love for dogs is common knowledge, and the fact that we happened to witness it in its purest form was a wonderful, indescribable feeling. He met Dash at the reception, said hello to Captain, walked around the entire place, keenly listening to our Founder trustee Miss Sudha Narayanan and Dr Lohith talk about CARE," read the Facebook post.


Image credits: CARE/Facebook

Kohli, who debuted in ODI against Sri Lanka in 2008 has amassed 11520 runs in 230 innings with 43 centuries and 54 half-centuries at an average of 60.31.

While he donned the Test hat against Windies in 2011 with 7066 runs to his name in 139 innings. With 26 hundreds and 7 double tons in the Test format, Kohli has scored at a staggering 54.78 batting average.

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