Crisis man Virat loves to tackle adversity

March 3rd, 2008 - 6:12 pm ICT by admin  

By Avishek Roy
New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) The world on Monday morning saw the 19-year-old Virat Kohli hold the Under-19 World Cup aloft. It was no doubt a moment to cherish for the captain of the Indian Youth team. But behind that memorable moment were many others, not always so happy, which have made Virat the mature player that he is today. Back in December 2006 this boy, then merely 17, had taken guard to play a courageous 90 within hours of his father’s death to save Delhi from certain follow-on in a Ranji Trophy game against Karnataka. That boy is now a man, albeit 19 and captain of the Under-19 team.

On an ill-fated December night in 2006, Virat lost his father P.N.Kohli to a stroke. It was devastating moment, for it was his father who had given Virat’s cricketing career a definite shape when he took his son to former Ranji cricketer Raj Kumar Sharma’s coaching centre in West Delhi.

In such circumstances cricket would be the last thing on anybody’s mind. But Virat, who was in the midst of a Ranji Trophy match against Karnataka, was batting on 40 when stumps were drawn and Delhi were trying hard to avoid a follow-on.

Much to the surprise of his teammates, Virat returned to the Ferozeshah Kotla next morning to carry on the battle against Karnataka bowlers. Asked why he had come, he told his stunned teammates and coach that he could not think of leaving his team in such a crisis.

The steely-eyed Virat shut his personal tragedy out and with teammate Puneet Bisht added 162 runs for the sixth wicket and saved Delhi from follow-on. When Virat was dismissed, 10 short of a century, he got a standing ovation. But his partner Bisht did get to the three-figure mark.

Soon after Virat left the ground to go to his father’s cremation.

His ability to play in the face of such a crisis stunned the fraternity and a new star was born.

“The family went through a bad phase when we lost our father,” recalls his elder brother Vikash.

“We faced problems and Virat was close to his father. He was shattered but he is very mature. Our father had taken him to the academy and he wanted Virat to follow his dreams. That tragedy has taught him a lot of things in life,” Vikash said.

In six matches during the Under-19 World Cup, Virat scored 235 runs, including a blistering 74-ball century against West Indies. Virat emerged as the third best run scorer in the tournament, second only to teammate and topper Tanmay Srivastava (262).

But more than his batting, it was his composure and character that stood out above the rest of kids.

“He is a very dedicated boy and takes cricket very seriously. The only time that he lost a bit was when we lost our father. But he has come out of that period and we pray that he plays even better and makes a name for the country,” said Vikash, who runs a electrical equipment shop.

“We have never put him under any pressure and allowed him to follow his heart. He is very positive at whatever he does. Winning a World Cup is a big thing and we are happy about his feat.”

Ask him about the money that U-19 players are offered by Indian Premier Leagues and Vikash leaves it his coach.

“He has just started. The BCCI and his coach Raj Kumar Sharma would be the best people to know how to handle all this,” says Vikash.

At the moment, the family is in soaking all the limelight. “We are happy that because of Virat we are getting congratulatory calls from so many people. We spoke to him after the match and he is very happy. We are just waiting for him to come and then we can have a celebration.”

This is one star which is bound to shine even brighter in the future.

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