On this day 14 years ago, a 19-year-old youngster named Virat Kohli made his debut in international cricket in an ODI against Sri Lanka. Fast forward to 2022, the youngster shattered numerous records, took his team to new heights, and became the greatest star in the modern era. Keeping aside his lean run of form, the contributions of Virat Kohli to Indian cricket are priceless. He has not only held India’s name high all over the world but created a massive fan following that is second to none. In this special feature, let’s look at some of the top contributions by Virat Kohli to Indian cricket.
Here are five contributions by Virat Kohli to Indian cricket:
1. Bringing a fitness revolution to Indian cricket
Many experts believe that Virat Kohli is solely responsible for bringing about the fitness revolution that the Indian side has witnessed in the last five years. Kohli is widely renowned as one of the fittest athletes in the world and made sacrifices aplenty to fine-tune his body.
Up until the turn of the last decade, the Indian team were considered one of the most indolent sides on the field, partially due to the old, senior players in the side – who were not the most flexible cricketers – and partially due to the lack of hunger to strive to be the best. But ever since Virat Kohli took over as skipper, everything changed. In the past five years, be it catching or ground-fielding or even endurance whilst batting, India has turned out to be one of the best sides in the world and the incumbent players have set the benchmark so high that fielding has become an inevitable part of the selection process of the players.
2. Developing fast bowling resources
From the time when Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi played four spinners in a Test match in England to pacers leaving nothing for the spinners in a home Test, is a remarkable transformation. India always used to depend on the spinners in the Red-ball format. But the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Umesh Yadav have proved their abilities and consistency in their line and lengths, making them the deadliest pace unit in this cricketing era.
Their emergence took place under the captaincy of Kohli. Virat always believed in pace attack, his approach of the game was to use pace attack and make them lethal for the batsman. The combined Strike Rate of Indian pacers under Virat is 50.6, and the combined average is 25.81, which is the fifth-best among the captains in world Test history.
3. Leading India to the top in Tests for 5 consecutive years
MS Dhoni had stepped down as the captain of the Indian team in 2014, making way for Kohli to take the baton in his hand. The Indian cricket team had first won the ICC Test Championship Mace in 2010 and did so the next year as well but were not able to assert their dominance.
But India produced a never-seen-before dominance since the promotion of Virat Kohli as the captain. Though Kohli did not win a major title in limited-overs cricket, his captaincy has earned India the sort of success in Test cricket that was never seen before. The Indian team were ranked the No. 1 spot in ICC rankings for five consecutive years (between 2017-21).
4. Implant an aggressive approach in the Indian team
Virat Kohli is undoubtedly one of the most aggressive personalities in world cricket and his charisma speaks volumes. His aggressiveness has taken him to where he is today and it keeps getting better and better with every passing day we are lucky to witness the greatness of King Kohli.
He changed the mindset of the team and made the team play for a win without the fear of losing. One such example was his first test as captain in Australia at Adelaide where India did not play for a draw and went for the win. India ended up losing that day, but Kohli had given the team a spirit to fight till the end, which was a win in the long term.
5. Winning series overseas and remaining unbeaten at home
Virat Kohli is the only captain to win at least one series in a format away from home. Under his leadership, India defeated South Africa in an ODI and T20I series in 2018. In the same year, India won their first T20I series in England. Three years later, he led India to lead 2-1 in a five-match series which was completed this year.
In New Zealand, Kohli won the ODI series in 2019 and whitewashed the Kiwis in T20Is in 2020. And Kohli is the only skipper to beat Australia in a Test, ODI, and T20I series down under.
At home, the Indian team was unstoppable. In tests, India was unbeaten under Kohli and lost just two games during his tenure. In white-ball cricket, India lost the ODI and T20I series against Australia in 2019, but other than that, no other team could beat India in limited overs at home.