New Delhi: India captain Virat Kohli scaled new heights Tuesday after being named as the first ever player to win three top International Cricket Council awards including cricketer of the year.
The 30-year-old, a superstar in cricket-mad India and husband to a Bollywood actress, first came onto the radar in 2008 when he captained India to victory in the Under-19 World Cup.
AFP Sport selects five key moments of the prolific run-getter’s career so far.
– Late spark –
Kohli scored his first international century in 2009, more than a year after making his one-day debut. His 107 off 114 balls during a 224-run third-wicket stand with Gautam Gambhir in Kolkata helped India win the match and the series against Sri Lanka.
It was a meaningful knock for Kohli, coming against the same side he faced in his 2008 debut in Dambulla — when he made just 12 runs.
– Winning among greats –
Kohli walked out to bat in stunned silence at a packed Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar was out in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka.
Kohli scored 35 before skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni completed the chase with an unbeaten 91. Few predicted then that Kohli too would later become one of India’s greats and even be compared with Tendulkar.
– Fired up –
Along with his ability to score lots of runs at a fast pace, Kohli gained a reputation for being unnecessarily aggressive on the field. The in-your-face Delhi boy turned up the volume during the 2014 tour of Australia, firing some verbal shots at Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin.
His on-field barbs went down badly with the umpires and Indian cricket legends who questioned his attitude. “Kohli’s verbal duels can be counter-productive and it can affect the Indian team,” said former captain Sunil Gavaskar. He has since mellowed — a bit.
– Captain’s call –
Dhoni surprised followers of Indian cricket by retiring from Tests in December 2014 and handing over the reins to the flamboyant Kohli, who relished the captain’s job and scored heavily in all three formats.
Kohli averaged 60 as captain between 2015 and 2016 when he scored five Test hundreds and ushered in a new era, with India regaining the number one Test ranking.
He took charge of the limited-overs side in 2017 and recently became India’s only captain to win a Test and bilateral ODI series in Australia.
– Records and recognition –
“King Kohli” smashed records by the dozen come 2017 as he established himself as a new cricket icon alongside Joe Root (England), Steve Smith (Australia) and Kane Williamson (New Zealand).
He became the fastest ever to 10,000 ODI runs, reaching the mark in 205 innings last year — surpassing Tendulkar who was first to reach the milestone in 2001, in 259 innings.
Kohli capped off a strong 2018 by being named cricketer of the year as well as Test and ODI player of the year by the ICC. The recognition showed a superstar at the top of his game as this year’s World Cup approaches.