Captain Kohli: A tale of triumph, tragedy, and tenacity from the Audible memoir

Captain Kohli: A tale of triumph, tragedy, and tenacity from the Audible memoir

As India marches into the Cricket World Cup 2023 finals, the focus on Virat Kohli is inevitable.


Mumbai: As the Cricket World Cup 2023 hurtles towards its nail-biting climax, all eyes are fixated on the epic showdown. At the heart of this electrifying spectacle is the great Indian captain, Virat Kohli, who not only led India to the finals but also etched his name in history by breaking the legendary Sachin Tendulkar's landmark record for the most ODI centuries. While the world applauds Kohli's on-field prowess, we are here to share untold stories of this cricketing maestro, making his record-breaking feats just one chapter in the spell-binding tale of 'Virat Kohli' available on Audible.

Tennis’ loss became Cricket’s Win!

“There was a time when Virat Kohli was torn between his love for Tennis and Cricket. Had the young boy picked up the racquet, instead of donning whites and taking to the cricket field, he would’ve excelled at the Tennis court as well.” Like many Indian children, Kohli stumbled upon cricket while playing in the neighbourhood. It wasn't until later that he decided to pursue it as a career. “What started out as gully cricket in the by lanes of Delhi, soon became a love affair that the world would witness in the years to come.” “Coming from a middle-class family, right through his growing up years, it was easier for the boys to access a bat and a ball than stand across the net of a Tennis court. High training fees ensure Tennis remains a sport played mainly by the well-off in India. As a result, though Kohli liked the idea of Tennis, it was cricket that he chased with the same passion.”

Fruit of Committed Mentorship

As Kohli spent more time playing cricket, his father recognized a spark and guided him towards meaningful pursuits. “And so, on a hot summer day in May, a nine-year-old chubby little Kohli and his elder brother, Vikas, walked into the West Delhi Cricket Academy (WDCA) alongside their father. While there were many coaches training kids in the duty maidans of Delhi, Kohli was fortunate to find a dedicated mentor in Rajkumar Sharma, a seasoned cricketer, himself. Sharma knew what it took to make it to the next level in cricket, expecting the same from his wards.” Kohli soon became a dedicated disciple of the coach. The coach initially saw no great potential in the brothers, but two incidents in the due course changed his perception. “First was, *in the days out in the field. Kohli chased the ball to the boundary and in a flash, picked it up and hurled it toward the wicketkeeper. The accuracy of the throw from a nine-year-old, flummoxed Sharma. A few days later, Kohli followed it up by casually flicking the ball over the mid-wicket fence, to the boundary, displaying his impeccable timing with the bat.” The coach called out how Kohli’s talents needed more attention than his elder brother. Following this incident, Sharma was given a free hand in Koli’s training, and the youngster flourished under his mentorship.

The Fitness Revolution

Beyond cricket, Kohli's second love was food. “From burgers to butter chicken, there was no cuisine he left untouched - making the most out of anything scrumptious available on the streets of Delhi. Back home, his mother too, dished out some tasty delicacies that Kohli was fond of. While he played really hard on the field, he could not say no to an extra helping at dinner until he realised the need to maintain a healthy diet.” It was not all smooth sailing for Kohli, initially. His world came crashing down when he learnt that he failed to make it to the Delhi Under-14 team. This rejection armed him with a forceful will to become even better. “The young boy bid his mother’s scrumptious meals a goodbye, put in more hours at training, and shut those extra kilos to transform into a fitter and more focused cricketer.” The following year, his dedication helped him bag a spot at the Delhi Under-15 side.

Determination and Discipline

Although he was a quiet teenager, Kohli harbored ambitions. “He would emulate his on-screen idols in cricketing matters and otherwise. During a tie against Baroda, Kohli arrived at the ground with his arm tattooed similar to what he had observed on the chiseled bodies of many cricketers. Right then, he was admonished for his antiques by Ajit Chaudhary, Delhi Under-17 coach, who was worried that he was becoming too big for his boots. He even challenged Kohli to prove his worth on the field. By the end of that match, the youngster had scored an unbeaten 250 runs.”

Breaking Boundaries and Records

He was picked to represent India in the Emerging Players Tournament in Australia. Although an unimportant tournament on the Indian calendar, it was used by the selectors to observe the performance of the next generation of cricketers - with each one eager to put on a good show. In the match against New Zealand, he was thrown out of his comfort zone when he was sent to open the innings, which he had rarely done until then. “Not one to be bogged down by challenges, he played an unbeaten knock of 120 runs to hand India their second win. In fact, he stayed at the crease for 41 overs, during that innings — which was a remarkable feat in itself and spoke volumes of his endurance as a sportsman.” What’s commendable is how he also displayed agility to adapt to any position, as and when the team needed him to! This tournament put the spotlight on him and was instrumental in his selection to the Indian team, in the months to follow.

Into The Big League and becoming a World Champion

“For two men in particular, the 2011 World Cup was special, although for different reasons. For Kohli, the excitement was palpable as he was playing in the tournament for the first time. For his idol, Sachin Tendulkar, it was to be his last attempt at winning a World Cup having played in five previous editions.” The fact that the tournament would be played in front of their own countrymen, made it all-the-more special. All of India prayed in unison for a win against Sri Lanka in the finals. “As India’s innings got underway, it all started to look dismal - when experienced batsmen, Sehwag and Tendulkar, were out early on in the game.” As a dejected Tendulkar walked off the field, he whispered a word of advice to Kohli, who was walking in to bat. “There was dew and the ball had stopped swinging but the ball that I got out to, did swing!” That’s what Sachin Tendulkar said to Virat, that the odd ball was swinging. That little tip helped Virat immensely, as he added what were vital 35 runs during the chase, in addition to pairing up with Gambhir to add 83 runs to the third wicket. The Indian spectators, acting as the twelfth man, passionately cheered every run as if it were a boundary. Ultimately, Dhoni's memorable six secured India's second World Cup victory, and he passed on the leadership to the future captain.

Birth of a Leader

Virat Kohli switched into a different gear after becoming the Test Captain. India was going through a poor phase and there were a lot of things for Kohli to ponder over now but he had a new role in the team. “Away from the ground, he chose to hit the gym to get fitter, say no to partying - which, people his age normally love. He developed other interests such as music and reading. He was soon most comfortable in the company of a good book. He was more refined now in the way he carried himself. He was more focused and determined to test the limits of his ability.” Rajkumar Sharma, said, “I think this habit has brought calmness into his approach and no doubt he has matured as a person.”

“In April 2016, the Indian Premier League beckoned. Kohli justified his price tag of Rs. 15 crore, the highest amount paid for a cricketer in a league. By putting on a show unseen in the previous editions of the tournament.  He shattered many records and registered many firsts as he guided his team to the final. His first century in the tie against Gujarat Lions and he went on to score 3 more in a career high of 313. He registered the most centuries in T20s in a calendar year alongside Chris Gayle.” By the end of the season, Kohli had amassed 973 runs in 16 innings - the highest tally registered in T20 series and the most by a captain in an IPL season.

As India marches into the Cricket World Cup 2023 finals, the focus on Virat Kohli is inevitable. And, with this Audible audiobook, the fans can unearth the untold stories, the struggles, and the triumphs that define the man who wears the captain's armband with pride.