His Father Died. The Next Morning, He Went On To Save Delhi From The Jaws Of Defeat.

Date: December 18, 2006
Match: Delhi vs Karnataka
Tournament: Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ Match
Venue: Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi

This is one story that has been etched in Ferozeshah Kotla’s history and will be narrated for years to come. It is the tale of an 18-year-old teenager, who loved cricket. An act, which stunned not just his teammates but also his opposition.

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This is the story of Virat Kohli.

 

Day 1:

The year was 2006 and Karnataka scored 446 in their first innings at Feroz Shah Kotla.

 

Day 2:

It was a cold and difficult day for the Delhi Ranji team. They lost 5 wickets chasing Karnataka’s mammoth first innings total. With half of the side back in the hut on the 2nd day itself, it was an uphill task for Kohli and Co. to save the match. The 18-year-old walked out and along with wicketkeeper Puneet Bisht helped reach Delhi 103 at the end of the day’s play, without losing another wicket. Kohli stood solid and unbeaten at 40, but Delhi still needed to go a long way with the last recognized pair in the middle.

 

That night, his world turned upside down. His father, Prem Kohli, just 54-years-old, passed away.

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Day 3:

Kohli faced an awful choice – whether to cremate his father or to go and finish his innings for Delhi. The news of Prem Kohli’s demise had already travelled throughout the Delhi dressing room. Chetanya Nanda was informed that Kohli won’t come to bat and he was asked to pad up. But, his teammates, opposition and even the match officials were shocked to see Virat Kohli arriving in the dressing room in full cricketing gear. He chose to go in and bat.

He played for 281 minutes and faced 238 balls. When he was declared out after scoring a match-saving 90, just before lunch though the bat had brushed the pad as replays showed, his team was clearly out of trouble, with only 36 runs needed to avoid the follow-on.

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At around 12, he watched the replay of his dismissal in the dressing room, quietly removed his pads and went straight to attend the funeral. From 14-4 (top order back to the pavilion), Delhi had managed to save the match and the man who lost his father the night before, was responsible for Delhi’s turnaround.

He knew that his father was gone. But he surely knew Delhi needed him and match could be saved. He just wanted to fulfil his father’s dreams, knowing that some part of his life would never be the same. This shows how big a team man he is.

His father was cremated later that evening and the rest is history. Kohli transformed from an 18-year-old teenager into a mature adult overnight.

 

Mithun Manhas, the skipper of Delhi Ranji team was all praise for the youngster’s determination:

“We asked him what made him come here. And we also told him that if he decided to go back and be with his family, the entire team would support him. He decided to play. That is an act of great commitment to the team and his innings turned out to be crucial.”

 

Chetan Chauhan, the then Delhi coach, was amazed at his dedication:

“He was barely 18 and he had lost his father at 4 am. I spoke to Virat and his brother and was told that he was in the mental shape to actually go out and bat. Hats off to his attitude and determination. It’s unfortunate that he missed out on a hundred but what matters today is that how he played, not how much he made.”

 

He never looked back. What followed was sheer beauty.

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In his Ranji debut season, putting aside his personal tragedy and saving his team from the jaws of defeat certainly proves his mental strength. Only a person with remarkable passion and love for what he or she is doing can go ahead and do something so so…remarkable.

For him, life is cricket. India comes above everything.
Happy Birthday, Virat Kohli. You are a synonym of dedication. ?

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