There was a very subtle indication of his successor when Mahendra Singh Dhoni spoke at the post-match presentation ceremony in Mirpur Dhaka on Sunday night. Sri Lanka's six-wicket thrashing of India in the ICC World Twenty20 final was the first big blot in Dhoni's amazing record in finals of ICC tournaments. But Dhoni still spotted the 'positive' amid the gloom in the Indian camp. The only bright spot for India was Virat Kohli. This was clearly Kohli's tournament. (Virat Kohli achieves career-best ranking in Twenty20 internationals)
"Virat has been brilliant in the last few years. He is someone who makes most of the opportunity. The good thing is that he plays authentic shots and still scores runs. He is got a bright future ahead of them," Dhoni said of Kohli, who rightfully won the Man of the Tournament award. (World T20 stat: Virat Kohli, first Indian to post four fifties in the tournament)
Time and again, the 25-year-old Delhi lad has displayed his batting prowess across formats and situations. He has been credited with mastering the art of run chases and praised for his knack of walking in to bat in any situation and taking it by scruff of its neck. Behind those strong wrists that can dispatch any delivery to the mid-wicket fence and the finesse in the stroke-play through covers, lies a firm, determined mind hungry for success. (Virat Kohli named Man of the Tournament in ICC World T20)
In the final against Sri Lanka, Kohli stood tall amidst the ruins. On a wicket where the rest of the Indian batsmen struggled, Kohli was all class and grace. His 77-run knock in the final meant he finished as the leading run-scorer of the tournament with 316 runs in six innings at an average of 106.33. He also became the first Indian to score four fifties in the World Twenty20. According to the ICC, Kohli has attained his career-best No. 2 ranking in T20Is. (Virat Kohli, the lone bright spot in Indian batting)
In One-Day Internationals (ODI), Kohli's growth and maturity has come as a pleasant surprise to many greats of the game. A lot of them have even tipped him to finish as the greatest batsman of the format. In 134 ODIs, Kohli has raced away to more than 5,000 runs with as many as 19 centuries and 30 fifties. (Kohli gets marriage proposal from England's woman cricketer)
With an average in excess of 50 and still a lot of cricket still to come, Kohli could even surpass Sachin Tendulkar, the ultimate benchmark as far as runs and records are concerned in this format of the game. Kohli has also shown a few early signs of good leadership as he led India on the successful tour of Zimbabwe in 2013 and in the Asia Cup in 2014.
While he has flourished well in ODIs, Kohli's real test is always going to be in the longest format of the sport. If in ODIs, he proved his mettle and penchant for runs, Tests have put his endurance and mental strength under the microscope. With 1,721 runs in 24 Tests, Kohli is taking familiar positive strides forward in white flannels as well. That he has Test hundreds in hostile conditions of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia adds an extra sparkle to his already brightly-shining CV and makes him the man to watch out for when India travel to England in July. (Virat Kohli gratefully accepts MS Dhoni's 'gift')
With so much responsibility resting on his young but strong shoulders, Virat Kohli surely seems like the flag-bearer of Indian cricket for years to come.