Virat Kohli (About this soundpronunciation (help·info); born 5 November 1988) is an Indian cricketer and the current captain of the India national team. A right-handed top-order batsman, Kohli is regarded as one of the best batsmen in the world. He plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL), and has been the team’s captain since 2013. Since October 2017, he has been the top-ranked ODI batsman in the world and is currently 2nd in Test rankings with 886 points. Among Indian batsmen, Kohli has the best ever Test rating (937 points), ODI rating (911 points) and T20I rating (897 points).
Kohli captained India Under-19s to victory at the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia. After a few months later, he made his ODI debut for India against Sri Lanka at the age of 19. Initially having played as a reserve batsman in the Indian team, he soon established himself as a regular in the ODI middle-order and was part of the squad that won the 2011 World Cup. He made his Test debut in 2011 and shrugged off the tag of “ODI specialist” by 2013 with Test hundreds in Australia and South Africa. Having reached the number one spot in the ICC rankings for ODI batsmen for the first time in 2013, Kohli also found success in the Twenty20 format, winning the Man of the Tournament twice at the ICC World Twenty20 (in 2014 and 2016).
Kohli was appointed the vice-captain of the ODI team in 2012 and handed over the Test captaincy following Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Test retirement in 2014. In early 2017, he became the limited-overs captain as well after Dhoni stepped down from the position. In ODIs, Kohli has the second highest number of centuries and the highest number of centuries in run-chases in the world. He holds the world record for being the fastest batsman to 10,000 and 11,000 runs in ODI cricket, reaching the milestones in 205 and 222 innings respectively.
Kohli has been the recipient of many awards such as the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy (ICC Cricketer of the Year) in 2017 and 2018; ICC Test Player of the Year 2018; ICC ODI Player of the Year in 2012, 2017 and 2018 and Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He was given the Arjuna Award in 2013, the Padma Shri under the sports category in 2017 and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the highest sporting honour in India, in 2018. Kohli is ranked as one of the world’s most famous athletes by ESPN and one of the most valuable athlete brands by Forbes. In 2018, Time magazine named Kohli one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2020, Kohli was ranked 66th in Forbes list of the top 100 highest paid athletes in the world for the year 2020 with estimated earnings of $26 million. Virat Kohli is the only cricketer to feature in Forbes.
Virat Kohli was born on 5 November 1988 in Delhi into a Punjabi Hindu family. His father, Prem Kohli, worked as a criminal lawyer and his mother, Saroj Kohli, is a housewife. He has an older brother, Vikas, and an older sister, Bhavna. According to his family, when he was three-years old, Kohli would pick up a cricket bat, start swinging it and ask his father to bowl at him.
Kohli was raised in Uttam Nagar and started his schooling at Vishal Bharti Public School. In 1998, the West Delhi Cricket Academy was created and a nine-year-old Kohli was part of its first intake. Kohli’s father took him to the academy after their neighbours suggested that “Virat shouldn’t waste his time in gully cricket and instead join a professional club”. Kohli trained at the academy under Rajkumar Sharma and also played matches at the Sumeet Dogra Academy at Vasundhara Enclave at the same time. Sharma recounts Kohli’s early days at his academy, “He oozed talent. It was so difficult to keep him quiet. He was a natural in whatever he did and I was most impressed with his attitude. He was ready to bat at any spot, and I had to literally push him home after the training sessions. He just wouldn’t leave.” In ninth grade, he shifted to Saviour Convent in Paschim Vihar to help his cricket practice. Apart from sports, Kohli was good at academics as well, and his teachers remember him as “a bright and alert child”. Kohli’s family lived in Meera Bagh until 2015 when they moved to Gurgaon.
Kohli’s father died on 18 December 2006 due to a stroke after being bed-ridden for a month. Regarding his early life, Kohli has said in an interview, “I’ve seen a lot in life. Losing my father at a young age, the family business not doing too well, staying in a rented place. There were tough times for the family… It’s all embedded in my memory.” According to Kohli, his father supported his cricket training during his childhood, “My father was my biggest support. He was the one who drove me to practice every day. I miss his presence sometimes.”
- 2013 – Arjuna Award
- 2017 – Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award.
- 2018 – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
- Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy (ICC Cricketer of the Year): 2017, 2018
- ICC ODI Player of the Year: 2012, 2017, 2018
- ICC Test Player of the Year: 2018
- ICC ODI Team of the Year: 2012, 2014, 2016 (captain), 2017 (captain), 2018 (captain), 2019 (captain)
- ICC Test Team of the Year: 2017 (captain), 2018 (captain), 2019 (captain)
- ICC Spirit of Cricket :2019
- Polly Umrigar Award for International Cricketer of the Year: 2011–12, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18
- Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World: 2016, 2017, 2018
- CEAT International Cricketer of the Year: 2011–12, 2013–14, 2018-19
- Barmy Army – International Player of Year: 2017, 2018
- A stand at Arun Jaitley Stadium is named Virat Kohli Stand on 12 September 2019.
Other honours and awards
- People’s Choice Awards India For Favourite Sportsperson: 2012
- CNN-News18 Indian of the Year 2017
Kohli started dating Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma in 2013; the couple soon earned the celebrity couple nickname “Virushka”. Their relationship attracted substantial media attention, with persistent rumours and speculations in the media, as neither of the two publicly talked about it. The couple married on 11 December 2017 in a private ceremony in Florence, Italy.
Kohli has admitted that he is superstitious. He used to wear black wristbands as a cricket superstition; earlier, he used to wear the same pair of gloves with which he had “been scoring”. Apart from a religious black thread, he has also been wearing a kara on his right arm since 2012.