Mumbai: Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar on Monday said he noticed the aggressive "spark" in Virat Kohli when he made his India debut and that characteristic has rubbed off on the entire team.
Kohli, who is known for his aggression, on Sunday scored his 31st century in his 200th ODI against New Zealand, albeit in a losing cause.
He raced past former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting, and is now only behind Tendulkar, who has 49 ODI hundreds to his credit.
"His (Kohli's) attitude hasn't changed since he got into the team. I noticed that spark in him which many guys were not fond of and there were many guys who were criticising him for that," Tendulkar said.
"And today that has become the strength of the Indian team. He hasn't changed much but people around him have changed. His attitude has changed only because of his performances and it is extremely crucial for a player to have that freedom to express himself," the legendary batsman added.
Tendulkar also said that the present Indian team is lot more balanced as a unit.
"I feel today we have got great balance in the team with a lot of spinners that can bat, lot of seamers that can bat. We saw what Bhuvneshwar (Kumar) did yesterday, people like him (Bhuvneshwar) and Hardik Pandya are going to change the balance when we start travelling," he said.
Tendulkar and legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar were interacting with Harsha Bhogle during the launch of "Democracy's XI The Great Indian Cricket Story" penned by journalist Rajdeep Sardesai at the Royal Opera House on Monday evening.
Gavaskar, meanwhile, recalled memories of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, and heaped praise on former India captain Kapil Dev and Ajit Wadekar for their leadership abilities.
Former India skippers Ajit Wadekar, Mohammed Azaruddin, Madhav Apte, Nari Contractor, Vinod Kambli and Praveen Amre were among those who were present on the occasion.