What makes Virat Kohli the undisputed monarch of the cricket world today is not his iconic status in the sports hierarchy but that the highest praise comes from the opposition camp and past greats.
However, his family didn’t always have it good. No stranger to loss, Kohli’s biggest support both on and off the field – his father, succumbed to a cerebral stroke when he was very young. In a fitting tribute that would’ve made his old man proud, Kohli returned to continue an innings just a few hours after his father passed away. ‘He was the one who drove me to practice every day,’ the captain of the Indian Test team recalls with characteristic humility and grace. Widely travelled sports journalist Vijay Lokapally goes on to recount happier times on the journey of Virat’s rapid rise to international stardom, an account punctuated with little-known stories by his fellow players, coaches and intimates. At 27, he has already been the recipient of countless accolades including the Arjuna Award, the title of BCCI’s ‘international cricketer of the Year’ as well as the ICC’s ‘ODI Player of the Year’, but for Kohli it’s not about the money or the fame, or the roar of the crowds or the flattering attention from women of all ages. Few know of his altruistic nature and his dedication to numerous charities for under-privileged children. What has not escaped the public eye though, is how this wizard of the willow wears his heavy mantle with such insouciant ease.