Revered and feared in equal proportions, Virat Kohli's reign in international cricket has been a fantastic testament to what is expected from modern-day players. Aggressive yet sensible, fearless yet cautious, talented and yet with a heart that remains eager to keep learning - this India player has showcased exemplary class.
On Wednesday (July 24), Kohli became the quickest to complete 15 ODI centuries when he hit 115 vs Zimbabwe. (Match report) Fifteen may not sound like a jaw-dropping number and similarly, Zimbabwe may not appear as a formidable foe either. Take just a step above this trivialities and it becomes clear that for a 24-year-old, no feat is an understatement.
Ask his Royal Challengers Bangalore coach Ray Jennings and he would describe Kohli as a creative leader of men - one who leads by examples and one who makes mistakes only to bounce back hard from them. "He is just 24 and not 34 or 35. In other words, he is learning. Allow him to make mistakes. And I am sure he will commit a few. But let's allow him to learn from those," he said in an interview recently. (Readfull interview here)
Clearly then, Kohli's aura has a lot to do with his skills, talents and numbers, while also has a bit to do with mistakes - errors that give him a human face. Take his anger for instance. Be it his rude one-fingered gesture in Australia or his outburst against Gautam Gambhir during an IPL match, Kohli has been in the news for wrong reasons as well. But each time however, he has bounced back with his ball-bludgeoning skills.
What's his mantra? "Hunger for success," he revealed recently. "The hunger for success counts the most in ODIs and not experience. You must be willing to succeed and make an impact. Now, I plan on leading my team by setting an example," Kohli had said when asked about balancing captaincy with batting in the absence of seniors like MS Dhoni. (Read: Kohli ranks hunger above ODI experience)
While currently promoted as skipper of the Indian side touring Zimbabwe, Kohli's permanent designation at the helm may not be for a few years. Replacing a legendary skipper like Dhoni - man with World Cup, World T20 and Champions League wins - can never be an easy prospect. What distinguishes Kohli though is that despite such high standards set by Dhoni, this man with an average of almost 50 in ODIs is still seen as a capable successor, even an able general perhaps, to the immensely competitive Indian cricket empire.