"Irrespective of whether you are talented or not, one has to work hard. Just being talented doesn’t mean anything; you can end up wasting it before you realise."
It requires a stable mind, heart and focused approach to perceive such things. It would be a surprise to many to know that these are the words of none other than the present Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli. As much as he seems like an extremely emotional character considering how he often reacts to situations, stability doesn’t seem to have even a distant connection to the Indian skipper sometimes.
However, it is the sheer disappointment of not being able to achieve certain goals that leads to such actions from him. As a person, Kohli is extremely focused on his goals and works hard to achieve them. It is exactly this sort of focus that gives him stability in both mind and heart, and helps him sail smoothly towards his goals.
The way he notched up the 30th ODI century of his career on Sunday and completed yet another run-chase was again an evidence of his extremely focussed and stable approach towards his game. His relentless efforts to be the best in the business along with keeping the interests of the team ahead of him, is the reason for all his successes so far.
The fact that he has 30 centuries to his name at the age of only 28 gives some idea about the giant strides he is taking to scale those mountains of Himalayan heights. Even Sachin Tendulkar, ‘The God of Indian Cricket’, had just 16 ODI centuries to his name at this age. And the day doesn’t seem far away when Kohli will break Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries as well.
Over the past nine years, Kohli has completed one run-chase after another with utmost ease. He has even performed in conditions that have proved to be untenable for the other batsmen of his team. Kohli is that extraordinary combination of talent and hard work that makes other players look mediocre in front of him. What is more fascinating is the fact that his game hasn’t suffered even a bit as a result of his captaincy duties. Even the controversies and backlashes that followed owing to his rift with ex-coach of the Indian team, Anil Kumble, had little effect on his performances on the field. On the other hand, he has embraced the challenges of captaincy and adapted to it accordingly to bring out the best from him.
His batting record as an ODI captain defies the general convention. He averages a staggering 81.12 in 32 innings played as a captain, which is way higher than his average of 51.29 in 154 innings played without any captaincy duties. Common belief suggests that a player’s performance suffers a bit as a result of captaincy duties. Tendulkar, for instance, averaged only 37.75 with the bat in 70 innings played as a captain, which is way lower than his average of 46.16 in 382 innings that he played without shouldering the responsibility of captaincy.
The 28-year old knows that talent can take a person to certain heights, but it is only hard work that can help him progress further from there. He was regarded as a rising young talent at the time he made his India debut in 2008. He rose up the ranks with some blistering performances and then hit rock bottom with a torrid tour of England. However, he rectified his mistakes, figured out what went wrong, and came back in a whole new calmer avatar. He started redefining consistency since then and has never looked back.
The pressure of captaincy has tested even the best of players in the world that too in each and every period of time. However, the term ‘pressure’ seems somewhat alien to Kohli.
No one can ever say that he or she has seen Kohli under pressure on any given day on the field. He likes to be on the top of his opposition and dominate. And he does exactly that match in and match out. It it is his self-belief and confidence on his abilities as a player that helps him to come out on top more often than not.
He was handed over full ODI captaincy duties only in January this year during the series against England. Since then, he has amassed 1,017 runs in 18 innings at a mammoth average of 92.45 and strike rate of 102.62. These statistics demonstrate how well he has responded to the responsibilities, and the so-called pressure that comes with captaincy.
He hasn’t even changed his approach as a player on becoming a captain. He is leading the team with the same aggression and passion he used to commit to the team when he was not the captain. This attitude and approach works the best for him always and is now working well for India as well. He has raised his bar as a batsman even with the responsibilities of leading the team. More importantly, his characteristics and positive influence are now visible on the team as a whole, which is turning them into world-beaters.