From a rookie in 2008, Kohli climbed the ranks in RCB to become their most dependable player and the captain of the team. His rise has been very similar to the one in International Cricket. It is difficult to tell which led to what. The truth is that Kohli has evolved.
Evolution is something rarely associated with athletes. Athletes progress. They take their game to the next level. They get better at what they can already do with the addition of a few new weapons in their armor.
Kohli, on the other hand, changed his armor. Instead of taking his game to the next levels, he created new levels and asked everybody else to join him there. It started with fitness. He then toiled hard to become the toughest guy in world cricket psychologically. His technique automatically followed. No matter the format, no matter the situation of the match, in fact, tougher it is the better. Kohli evolved. Step by step. And became the legend that he is today. Today, Kohli is cricket
IPL 2016 demonstrated what a player at the peak of his powers can do. He scored not one or two but four hundred in a single season. Even the T20 giant Chris Gayle who has made a habit of scoring T20 hundreds has managed a maximum of 2 hundred in a single IPL season.
Kohli has 4948 runs in 163 IPL innings at an average of 38.35 that too at a healthy strike rate of 130.76. Only Suresh Raina has more runs. Raina has 37 more runs in 13 more innings in the IPL. 5000 IPL runs is just a formality for Kohli now.
There is one thing that must be a matter of concern for Kohli though. The coveted IPL trophy. He won the Under19 World Cup in one and only attempt. Even the 2011 ODI World cup that India won after 28 years was his first attempt at it.
However, after 11 attempts as a player, and few of them as a captain, Kohli is yet to get his hands on that IPL trophy. That too despite having some of the dreaded names in T20 cricket playing for RCB at one time or another. The mighty Chris Gayle and Mr.360-degree AB De Villiers.
RCB reached the IPL finals 3 times and lost all of them. The loss in 2016 must be the one that stung Virat Kohli the most though. Being the chase masters that he is in the world cricket, he failed to seal it for RCB when it mattered the most.
When a captain gets accolades for team’s success, he must own the failures as well. The passion that drives him as a player can sometimes come in the way of calmness that is needed as a captain. The single-minded obsession about winning can hinder the ability to look for possible alternatives in a given situation. Slamming franchise players at the press conference as he did after RCB's exit in IPL 2018 or the anger that he showed after the dropped catches in the field is not helping either. There are things that must be done in the confines of the dressing room and they must remain there. Kohli the captain must rise to match the player he is.
A captain must expect absolute dedication from the team but at the same time, he should be accepting of their failures. Kohli must understand that not everybody is Kohli. He must help the players to be the best form of themselves within their limitations. The players should fear to let the captain down rather than fearing the captain himself.
Can he do it? History says he can.
They said this tattooed brat cannot last long in the world cricket. He has. And he will outlast many. They said he cannot score in England. He did. That too head and shoulders above the rest. They said he is too aggressive to be successful as a batsman. He is today the most successful among the contemporaries.
All he must do is to find a way to sort things out as a captain in the coming IPL 2019. He will. He always has.