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December 30, 2019

Sportsperson of the Decade – King Kohli.

An advance happy new year to all my friends, As we draw close to a terrific year and an interesting and turbulent decade, I was pondering on what to write. As usual, sports was the first thing that came to my mind and I thought who is the person who influenced our thought process the most in this decade? The answer was easy - King Virat Kohli.
I penned a 642-word letter and shot it off to The Hans India. Luckily for me, they obliged and published it in the letters column today (30-12-2019). Yes, they trimmed it! The letter is down to 426 words but no regrets. I am also posting the original letter for readers who want to read the letter as it is without any edits!

When Sachin Tendulkar retired on 16th November 2013, a sense of loss and nostalgia swept the country. Cricket lovers who swore by Sachin’s name made resolutions not to watch cricket any longer. It was as if the light had gone out of their life!

Emerging out of the shadows of the god of cricket was his prodigy, Virat King Kohli. For all his records and achievements, Sachin was not a leader. His record in test cricket speaks for itself, 4 wins in 25 tests as a captain.

As we draw to a close on a very eventful decade, Virat Kohli proved that he is a worthy successor. His work ethic, professionalism, his foresight, hunger for runs and success, ability to think beyond for the team and India, Aggression (sometimes he does go overbroad with his brand of machismo), his down to earth persona and his delightful marriage with Anushka Sharma has won him fans throughout the world. 

Under Sunil Gavaskar’s captaincy, India played well and looked at drawing test matches. It was Sourav Ganguly who gave Indian cricket the self-belief and the first glimpses of the swagger that would become pronounced under the captaincy of Virat Kohli. India now is the team that everybody wants to beat. They are the latest bullies in world cricket - the tag worn by West Indies in the eighties and which was later the domain of the Aussies.

India now has great batsmen, and in a country that was known for its spin wizards has the best fast bowlers in the world. Amazing the way Kohli has moulded this team into a bunch of world-beaters with a self-belief that is so endearing and charming! The only anomaly that Kohl wants to correct is India’s recent inability to win in ICC championships and world cups. I am sure that in the next decade even that anomaly would be rectified.

Some of the amazing world records that Kohli has amassed over the years are interesting to recap. In ODIs, Kohli has the second-highest number of centuries and the highest number of centuries in run chases. He holds the world record for being the fastest batsman to 10,000 and 11,000 runs in ODI cricket, reaching the milestones in 205 and 222 innings respectively.

His batting average in successful run cases in ODIs is a mild boggling 98.93. He almost averages 100 when India wins while batting second!

Virat Kohli is the only cricketer to have an average of 50 plus in all the formats, Tests, ODIs and T20I. That is terrific consistency. He now has 33 wins out of 53 as a test captain and trails Clive Lloyd, 36 wins out of 74, Steve Waugh, 41wins out of 57, Ricky Ponting, 48 wins out of 77 and Graeme Smith, 53 wins out of 109.

Virat Kohli has so far played 401 international matches (Tests, ODIs and T20I) and has scored a mammoth 21,444 runs and is at 8th place among all the players who have played this great game. He has scored 70 centuries and 101 half-centuries and has a staggering average of 57.13 across the formats. And he is only 31 years old and god willing he could play for another 7 to 8 years.

Indeed, Virat Kohli is the king! All others including Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root and Babar Azam are only pretenders! King Kohli sits on the throne and does not look like relinquishing it to anyone in the near future.

What is on the bucket list of the king? Getting to a 100 centuries, as early as possible, win the world championship of test cricket and winning the world cup in the ODIs and T20I. That would be the crowning glory to an illustrious cricketer who has sacrificed a lot and has become a worthy successor to the god of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar. 

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