Nobody Looked At Virat Kohli As "Quintessential T20 Batter" Before 2016 IPL: Ex-India Star
Virat Kohli scored 973 runs in IPL 2016, the highest ever in a single edition of the tournament.
Virat Kohli will forever be remembered for his incredible achievements in the IPL since the league began in 2008, given his presence at every tournament and his rise from an unheralded 19-year-old to arguably the greatest batter in the history of the tournament. With the 2023 IPL season just a few days away, experts Aakash Chopra, Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan, got together in an episode of 'Insiders Preview - Virat Kohli' on Jio Cinema to discuss the achievements and expectations from the highest run-getter in IPL history, Kohli.
Kohli had solidified his name as one of the greatest batters in the history of the tournament during his incredible 2016 season, which Aakash Chopra believes led the batting icon to redefine what batting in T20 cricket is. Kohli scored 973 runs in that edition, the highest ever in a single edition, in the tournament's illustrious history.
"If you looked at Virat Kohli the batter before that, you knew he could get you runs but nobody looked at him as a quintessential rockstar T20 batter. He was more of a collector, grafter, maybe he would hit boundaries, but very rarely would you see him take the aerial route and hit five sixes in ten balls. He was not that kind of a player. Virat Kohli redefined the batting in T20 cricket in that particular season. He proved that you can play T20 cricket with proper technique, even with that, not one or two, but he scored four centuries. That season was just phenomenal, he was a man possessed," said Chopra.
The former India captain got his start in the IPL with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their inaugural season and played in the very first IPL match contested between RCB and the Kolkata Knight Riders and from there has gone on to become the player with most runs in IPL till date.
Anil Kumble, who was also a part of the RCB squad in the inaugural season spoke about a young Kohli on his squad, saying, "He was very confident when he walked into the dressing room and you could see the talent as soon as you watched him at the nets."
"The one good thing that has happened to Virat is that there were a lot of U-19 youngsters who got into IPL franchises that year, but he got a chance in the first game. That's very important because when you're doing well as a 19-year-old and you get that break in your first season, you are not even thinking about the massive players in the dressing room. You are soaking in that atmosphere and getting involved in the match and that is exactly what happened with Virat. From there on, not just him, but the team had a tough year in 2008 and we did well in 2009. Virat continued from there on and then he became captain later on. It's wonderful as a 19-year-old to walk into any team and get the opportunity that he did," added Kumble.
Alongside Kumble, Virat also had the veteran eye of Zaheer Khan watching over him in the RCB locker room. Khan elaborated on the change he saw in Kohli over the years, saying, "One thing that stands out is Virat's appetite to learn and how quickly he went on adding things to his game and his approach to the game. He knew that once he had the responsibility of being the captain, he can't be doing the things he was doing earlier like just going too much in the face of opposition. You need to have that control and maturity as a leader, which he added. That was something that wasn't there if you look at the initial part of his journey."
"One thing which he really made a difference with was that he brought in that culture of looking after yourself. If you look at how he was in 2008, a chubby kid full of energy, to becoming a very lean mean person who is adding on that other side to the game. Everybody would do their routines to get themselves ready for the big stage but he went a notch or two higher than that," added Khan
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