Virat Kohli's hunger for perfection can lead India to World Cup glory
Last Updated: 05/06/19 10:32am
On April 2, 2011, Virat Kohli walked around the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai parading Sachin Tendulkar around on his shoulders.
Tendulkar, worshipped on the continent and edging ever closer to retirement, had finally got his hands on the most sought-after World Cup trophy and the Indian team were in no doubt the wild cheering from the sold-out crowd was all for their idol.
Eight years after hoisting his former captain and team-mate aloft, Kohli arrives in England with the opportunity to cement his own name in the history books.
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The transformation in fitness the 30-year-old has undergone since 2012 has seen him become of the most athletic players in the game.
His off-field 'revolution' came following a poor Indian Premier League season that year which highlighted to the batsman pure talent alone could only carry him so far.
In search of perfection Kohli changed his eating, drinking and sleeping habits while transforming his training and fitness behaviours.
India's captain credits becoming fitter to making him mentally stronger - which in turn has helped turn him into one of the finest modern-day cricketers.
Where Tendulkar was feted for his gifts with the bat, Kohli is on course to exceed his former skipper's achievements.
In the last two calendar years, he has led all batsmen in one-day international cricket, scoring 1,460 runs in 2017 and 1,202 in 2018 - earning him the title of the International Cricket Council's ODI Player of the Year for both years.
Kohli smashed six centuries and averaged an otherworldly 133.55 for his 1,202 runs in just 14 ODIs in 2018 - which saw him named as the Leading Cricketer in the World for a third year in a row in the 2019 edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanac.
By all accounts, the Delhi-born top-order batsman is already the greatest one-day batsman - he is the fastest player to reach 8,000, 9,000 and 10,000 ODI runs after all.
Despite seeing his Test side fall to a 4-1 series loss in the longest format of the game in England last year, Kohli walked away having proved he can more than thrive in English conditions.
There are few players who have mastered the art of the chase in cricket as well as Kohli has over the course of the past few years.
India have chased down a score of 350 or more on three occasions, a feat matched only by the world No 1 ODI team England.
Unsurprisingly, Kohli has scored a century in each of those chases, leading from the front driven constantly by a desire for self-improvement.
The only slight disappointment - though he has a healthy average of over 54 in ODIs in England, is that he has scored just one century on British soil - giving him his worst conversion rate in any country he has played.
There seem very few personal accomplishments left for the Indian skipper to achieve and yet the burning desire to be better every time he bats remains bright.
During the 2011 World Cup, Kohli struck an unbeaten century in the opening match against Bangladesh but then suffered a loss in form, hitting just one half-century in the next eight matches in the competition.
He averaged a little over 35 while 38.29 per cent of the 282 runs he scored during the tournament came in boundaries.
Much has changed for Kohli in the years that have passed since having the 2011 World Cup largely pass him by, not least the manner in which he amasses his runs.
Along with adding power and precision to his game, his increased fitness has allowed Kohli to increasingly turn singles into twos where few others can.
He is currently the only player to average more than fifty in all the forms of the international game and holds the record for the fastest ODI century for India - off just 52 balls.
In 1983 India's maiden World Cup triumph came against the odds in England, when they came out on top in the final against the much-feted West Indies at a sold-out Lord's.
Kohli currently has eight fewer ODI centuries then Tendulkar, who managed 49 hundreds over the course of his international 50-over career, but the latter has at least nine chances to surpass the "Little Master's" accomplishment during the World Cup.
With the story of unlikely victory for Kapil Dev's side being turned into a Bollywood blockbuster, Kohli will be hoping in years to come he will too be sat back watching a remake of his finest moment on the big screen, ending with the ultimate trophy lift.
You can watch every match of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup on Sky Sports Cricket, including India against South Africa from 10am on Sky Sports Cricket on Wednesday.