The latest controversy surrounding the Indian cricket team and their ex-coach Anil Kumble has seemed to done little damage to Virat Kohli's growing popularity. The Indian team captain became the most-followed celebrity on Facebook with more than 35 million fans, overtaking Bollywood star Salman Khan by a gap of over 6,00,000 followers. The only Indian who has more followers than Kohli is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has more than 42.2 million likes on his official page.
The 28-year-old cricketer has surpassed Bollywood stars like Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, and leads Sachin Tendulkar by more than 7.1 million likes. The rise in Kohli's popularity started after he took over the reins from former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in all formats of the game.
Kohli also features in the list of the fastest growing pages of sportspersons on Facebook, which is led by football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. All the top 10 athletes in this list include footballers except Kohli and American wrestler John Cena.
Kohli, in the past 12 months enjoyed a great home season with Test series win over New Zealand, England and Australia. In the shorter format, under Kohli's leadership, India defeated England and Australia in ODI series on home soil before finishing runners-up in the 2017 Champions Trophy. India went down to world champions West Indies in a two-match series in the T20 format, before beating England 2-1 in India.
Despite India's heavy loss to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final, and the spat with Kumble, Kohli's fan base is only increasing by the day. The Indian captain received a lot of flak for his fall-out with Kumble yet in the last six months, his fan base increased from 33 million to almost 36 million. Kohli has 35,434,956 followers on Facebook, 16 million followers on Twitter and 14 million followers on Instagram. Earlier this month, Kohli also featured in the 2017 Forbes list of the world's highest-paid athletes in the world, where he was ranked 89th with a total pay of $22 million. Kohli was also ranked 13th on ESPN's World Fame 100 list that made its debut last year.
The Indian cricket team is currently touring the West Indies for a five-match ODI series, followed by a T20 International. After the first match was washed out, the Indian cricket team won the second match convincingly by 105 runs on Sunday.