Thanks to his consistent performances, Kohli was included in India’s 2011 World Cup squad. He was just 22 when he was picked in the MS Dhoni-led side for the mega tournament.
Playing and sharing the dressing room with stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Dhoni helped Kohli learn the nuances of becoming a mature cricketer.
He was learning the art of batting under pressure, scoring in crucial moments, and accelerating the scoring rate. His on-field chats with Dhoni, while setting the field or picking a bowler, also saw him evolve as a leader. He was appointed vice-captain of the ODI team in 2012.
Indian cricket legend Yuvraj Singh, the player of the tournament of the 2011 World Cup, feels Virat’s evolution has been a ‘huge’ one.
When asked about Virat’s transformation since the 2011 World Cup campaign, Yuvraj said – “Huge difference (since 2011). Virat showed some great promise when he came on board. The moment he got the opportunities, he grabbed them. That’s how he took a spot in the World Cup (squad), because he was very young at that time. And it was between him and Rohit. At that time, Virat was scoring runs. That’s the reason, Virat got the spot. And compared to now, there is a complete change in him,” Yuvraj told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview.
Over the years, Virat became a run machine. While his captaincy skills have been questioned by some, time and again, there is no denying his skills as a batsman.
Kohli, who has 12169 ODI runs under his belt, is the second Indian on the all-time most ODI runs tally, after Sachin Tendulkar (18426 runs) and the sixth overall.
Picking up the tag of ‘chase master’ for carefully planned and executed run chases, Virat is also the second-highest ODI century scorer on the all-time list currently. He already has 43 ODI centuries and is sitting just behind Tendulkar who has a record 49 ODI tons under his belt.
“I have seen him grow and train in front of me. He was probably the hardest worker, very disciplined with his diet, very disciplined with his training. When he was scoring runs, you could see that he is somebody who wants to be the best player in the world. He had that kind of attitude. He has got that swag,” Yuvraj further said.
“He was scoring a lot of runs and then he became captain. Sometimes you get bogged down, but when he became captain, his consistency became even better. At almost 30, he had achieved a lot of things,” the former India all-rounder, who played 40 Tests, 304 ODIs and 58 T20Is for India, scoring over 11,000 international runs and taking 148 wickets told TimesofIndia.com.
“People become legends when they retire. At 30, he (Virat) already became a legend. It was really great to watch him grow as a cricketer. Hope he finishes on a high. Because he has got a lot of time,” Yuvraj signed off.