Former Indian skipper Dilip Vengsarkar feels Virat Kohli’s biggest legacy to Indian cricket is the culture of fitness he has introduced. Kohli played a key role in rising Indian cricket standards as a leader and also helped the fast bowlers take giant strides.
Vengsarkar was the chief of selectors when Kohli received his maiden ODI call-up on the tour of Sri Lanka in 2008. Kohli didn’t have a great start to his International career but Vengsarkar reckons he was able to relaunch him and worked hard on his fitness to get the best out of himself.
15 years later, Kohli is now one of the best batters in the world across all three formats. Kohli recently matched Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries after his fine hundred against South Africa at Eden Gardens, Kolkata on Sunday.
In his column for the Times of India, Dilip Vengsarkar wrote: “We picked him for the ODI series in Sri Lanka in August 2008. Even though he didn’t score too many runs on that tour, apart from a half-century, he looked impressive on that tour. 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 continued. “He completely sort of relaunched himself, worked hard on his game and fitness, focussed hard and became an outstanding cricketer.”
Vengsarkar added that expectations are always huge from Virat Kohli and every Indian fan wants him to make a century if he gets a start.
“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,” Vengsarkar added.
“His biggest legacy to Indian cricket is the culture of fitness he has introduced into the Indian team and the whole system.”When I see him convert ones into twos and twos into threes, I tell boys at my coaching academy to learn from him and replicate his fitness standards.”
Kohli has amassed 543 runs in eight matches at an average of 108.60 and a strike rate of 88.29 in the ongoing ODI showpiece.
India will next take on the Netherlands at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru on Sunday.