Nothing matches the passion that India has for the game of cricket! And every once in awhile, there comes a cricketer who plays by his own rules, aces the game and finds a permanent spot in the hearts of millions of fans.
The latest player who is sure to go down in history as one of the best that the country has ever had is Virat Kohli.
Despite the teething troubles, low phases and controversies, Virat has come a long way since his international debut, back in 2008. Virat has proved himself as the game-changer that India needed to prove its dominance in the International Cricket.
But what made Kohli the man he is today?
In a recent interview with Emmy winning journalist Graham Bensinger, Kohli spoke about the defining moment that changed his life forever.
The sudden demise of his father changed him forever. The incident played a pivotal role in his transformation from a carefree teenager to a determined adult.
The making of an icon…
The year was 2006, and 18-year-old Virat Kohli was gearing up for the upcoming Ranji Trophy Tournament.
Things were going fine until one day, Prem Kohli, Virat’s father suffered a stroke owing to the stress triggered by a heavy loss in online share trading. His health kept deteriorating even after he came back from the hospital.
This turmoil in his personal life collided with a very important phase in his career as a cricketer.
It was mid of December when Kohli and his team were all set to play in the group A match of the tournament. In their first innings, Karnataka., the opposite team managed to score 446.
On day 2 of the match, Delhi lost 5 wickets while chasing Karnataka’s first innings total. This put Delhi under a lot of pressure. When he finally hit the field, Kohli managed to save his team and helped it reach 103 runs by the end of the day. He stood unbeaten and strong at 40.
But the following night, Kohli’s world turned upside down. After struggling with his ailments for a couple of weeks, his father succumbed to a heart attack in the wee hours of 19th December 2006.
Watching his father take his last breath stirred something in Kohli. His initial reaction was to go completely blank. “There was no emotion coming out of me. I just went blank.” is how he describes his state of mind that night.
He called his coach in the morning who asked him what he wanted to do to which, Kohli replied that he wanted to play!
“For me, leaving cricket match was something which was just not acceptable,” he said.
He went to the game anyway. And it was not until he sat there in the dressing room as other players started coming to him to offer their condolences that he really broke down.
Kohli then stepped out in the field once again and faced 238 balls, scoring a match-saving 90. Unfortunately, he was declared out. Although his team was out of trouble, Kolhi was unfairly sent back to the pavilion.
Post his dismissal, he went straight to attend his father’s funeral.
The Delhi team was able to save the match, all thanks to this fierce and talented teenager who helped his team to make a turnaround.
His father was cremated later in the evening.
Against all odds…
Even amidst all the commotion at home, he couldn’t really stop thinking about the match. He also called his coach as he was upset with the decision of the umpire.
“I was upset because I couldn’t be there till the end to make my team win the game,” he said.
Kohli admits that the incident is the most impactful thing that has happened in his life. Post the cremations and the rituals, Kohli recalls telling his father that he is going to play for his country.
“I am going to play this game at the highest level and there is nothing else in life that could distract me anymore. Because it was my father’s vision as well,” he said.
From that day onward, everything in life became a second priority for Kohli.
This iconic player has certainly reached a point in his career which is part of the history as well as the future of cricket in India.