As a sports lover, at some point you realise that while devotion perhaps can be distributed equally among athletes, loyalty can't. Especially between contemporaries.
So, as an MS Dhoni loyalist, I could never fully commit to Virat Kohli - the captain. That is hard to admit, to the point of discomfort, because Kohli has contributed so much to the game, the country will benefit from it for decades.
As he steps down as the skipper of the national T20 side after the World Cup and RCB after this edition of IPL, we look at some of his accomplishments as a leader.
1. Speaking of MS, Kohli has always been utterly respectful to his predecessor, which is the first sign of a good leader. When Dhoni was playing his last World Cup in 2019, Virat went on record and said, "MS Dhoni is the man who gave me the opportunity to open the innings first time in my career, I can’t explain the respect I have for him in words. For me, he will always be ‘My Captain’ because I started my career under him".
2. He never shies away from making meaningful gestures and is super perceptive with relation to what his teammates, especially the ones who are new, would need to feel encouraged. Case in point: When India secured the T20 series in Australia in 2020, he handed over the trophy to debutant T Natarajan.
Nice gesture from Virat Kohli to hand over the Trophy to Natarajan who played a big role in the T20 series. pic.twitter.com/g7jBjGBH9Q— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) December 8, 2020
3. He tries to be mannered, not just towards his own teammates but also the opponents. We all remember the time when he asked the crowd to stop booing Steve Smith during the World Cup. That coming from the captain of the other side gave a very powerful message. In another sweet gesture, he went out of his way to shake hands with BJ Watling on his last match in June, 2021.
Virat Kohli 🤝 BJ Watling— ICC (@ICC) June 23, 2021
A nice gesture from the Indian skipper congratulating the @BLACKCAPS wicket-keeper on the final day of his international career 🙌#WTC21 Final | #INDvNZ | #SpiritOfCricket pic.twitter.com/zcI47UFPAp
4. He knows how to motivate the team and gets favourable results. For instance, before the historic Lord's Test win this August, he was heard giving this fiery speech right before the start of play and we all know what happened next.
5. He owns up to his mistakes. In Virat's own words, "I am like walking up to people and telling them 'listen, I have committed these mistakes, make sure you don't do them".
6. As a captain, he gives everyone the respect they deserve as people representing the country and doesn't go harsh on them just because he can. As elaborated by him in an interview, "The culture of scolding people isn't there in the change room now. As friendly as I am with Kuldeep (Yadav), I am the same with MS (Dhoni). The atmosphere is such that anyone can say anything to anyone".
7. It is under his captaincy that India became the fact bowling super-power that it is today. Our bowlers are winning us matches, and in a manner so emphatic that no one can ignore it. This is as close to being invincible as the Indian pace unit has gotten.
8. He cares about the fans and believes in serving them. In 2018, when RCB had a disappointing run, he apologised to the fans of the team and said, "We are deeply sorry for not living up to the expectations".
9. He does what is best for the team. In 2019, he declared innings against South Africa when he was playing at 254*. This led to a massive discussion online, but the captain had done what the captain thought was best.
Virat Kohli today declared the inns with his personal score at 254 not out on day-two. Selfless batsman and captain considering the subcontinent players' obsession with the milestones. #KingKohli— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) October 11, 2019
10. He can be straightforward when it is required of him. He frequently admits the shortcomings of the team and doesn't mince words when clarity is needed.
Leading the national team across formats, along with an IPL team, while also maintaining status as one of the greatest batsmen to have played the sport, cannot be easy. It's a herculean task and it is only fair that Virat is taking a break from some of the above-mentioned duties.
We are waiting to see what the future holds for him.