‘Culture of Fitness’ Marks Kohli’s Greatest Legacy in Indian Cricket8
Virat Kohli‘s remarkable journey in cricket serves as an inspiring tale of resilience and self-improvement. In the summer of 2008, he endured a challenging IPL season, struggling with poor form. However, what followed was nothing short of extraordinary. Recognizing the need for change, Kohli embarked on a personal transformation. He committed himself to a rigorous regimen, not only in terms of honing his cricketing skills but also in enhancing his physical fitness. This dedication and unwavering focus paid off, as he emerged as a cricketing sensation.
Kohli’s relentless pursuit of excellence has set new standards in Indian cricket. His consistency in scoring centuries has raised expectations to extraordinary levels. While most batsmen would be content with a 70 or 80, for Kohli, it often feels like a ‘failure,’ a testament to his high standards. Perhaps his most significant contribution to Indian cricket is the ‘culture of fitness’ he has instilled. His commitment to physical well-being has influenced not only his teammates but also a generation of aspiring cricketers. Virat Kohli’s story is a testament to the power of self-motivation and hard work, a source of inspiration for many in the world of sports.
In a recent interview, Dilip Vengsarkar said that fitness standards have drastically improved under Kohli and it is his biggest legacy.
“Early on in his career, in the summer of 2008, Virat had a very poor IPL. How he rejuvenated himself, and relaunched his cricket, is absolutely amazing. He completely sort of ‘relaunched’ himself, worked hard on his game and his fitness, focused hard, and became an outstanding cricketer. The expectations from him are so high, and we are so used to seeing him score a century, that when he scores a 70 or 80, it seems as if he has failed! His biggest legacy to Indian cricket is the ‘culture of fitness. “
Dilip Vengsarkar’s decision to select Virat Kohli ahead of S. Badrinath for India’s limited-over squad for the tour to Sri Lanka in 2008 was a pivotal moment in cricket history. Despite objections from then-coach Gary Kirsten and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Vengsarkar believed in Kohli’s potential and insisted on his inclusion. His conviction was based on the observation of Kohli’s technical prowess and impressive performance during an Emerging Player tournament match in Australia, where he had scored a remarkable hundred against New Zealand.
This decision, however, had unintended consequences. N. Srinivasan, then BCCI treasurer, was displeased that Badrinath was overlooked in favor of Kohli. He questioned Vengsarkar’s choice, citing Badrinath’s domestic consistency. Nonetheless, Kohli’s inclusion marked a turning point in Indian cricket, as he went on to become one of the finest Indian batsmen. Regrettably, this decision also led to the end of Vengsarkar’s tenure as Chief Selector, as he was removed from his position due to alleged conflict of interest.
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