Ahead of Kohli’s Test No. 100 tomorrow, this WhatsApp group is buzzing for the ‘yaar’

Ahead of Kohli’s Test No. 100 tomorrow, this WhatsApp group is buzzing for the ‘yaar’


THROUGH WEDNESDAY, Virat Kohli’s cellphone notifications would have buzzed continually, significantly from the WhatsApp group titled ‘Under 19 Champions’.

Exactly 14 years in the past, Kohli, a stump in his hand, had slid on the inexperienced grass in a Kuala Lumpur stadium, with Ravindra Jadeja in scorching pursuit, after main India to the Under-19 World Cup, beating South Africa within the last on March 2, 2008.

Now, with their “yaar” set to play his one hundredth Test on Friday in opposition to Sri Lanka, it was a deluge of emojis on the group, which was began through the lockdown in 2020 with all of its members from that Under-19 World Cup profitable staff.

This group by no means has a boring second, its members inform The Indian Express. Apart from recollections of Kohli’s spiked hair and aggression from then, memes and jokes, and fixed leg-pulling periods, occur after video games.

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Like this one time, when left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla reminded Kohli a couple of mistake.

“As captain, Kohli had got so involved in a World Cup game that he forgot he had changed my field position. I was at deep midwicket and when the batsman hit the ball to square-leg, he sent me to field there. Soon, the ball went to midwicket, and Kohli lost his temper. I had to remind him of the sequence of events. We still have a laugh about that,” he remembers.

“Memes and jokes are passed on to everyone. No one is spared,” he says.

Tanmay Srivastava, the top-scorer in that last and the one who began the group, finds it amusing to recall the general public notion about Kohli again then.

“People used to say, ‘look, he has attitude issues’. But when he began to perform, his attitude became aggression in their eyes! Many former players used to say, ‘bada khalifa ban gaya hai (he has become a big player)’. It was a comment on his attitude, as they saw it. But with consistent performances, everything changed. Now the same people say he is a confident guy,” says Srivastava, who was the captain within the run-up to that World Cup earlier than being changed by Kohli.

Srivastava, who was often addressed as “bhaisaab” by Kohli of their teenage days, identifies aggression because the “X-factor” that set aside his previous good friend. “We were all match winners in that team but he was different because of his aggression. He was ready to take on anyone, without blinking. A rare quality, especially as no one then was used to such an attitude. He was different for sure, he had that X-factor, the spirit, the attitude of never giving up,” he says.

Another team-mate Pradeep Sangwan, the left-arm seamer, nonetheless marvels at Kohli’s dietary self-discipline “because I know how much of a foodie he was”. “He used to eat a lot. Mutton-rice, everything. He would even walk for kilometres to go to various food joints; the only thing that mattered was taste,” says Sangwan.

When did that change? “In 2010, when he came to play for the Delhi Ranji team, everything was different. He was eating boiled food! He wouldn’t drink more than 200 ml of liquid at a time. Rice-mutton curry had been replaced with diet food. I was surprised at how much he had changed himself,” he says.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Shreevats Goswami remembers Kohli’s big-hitting prowess. “He was the only one who cleared sixes with ease,” says Goswami who was additionally moved by the transformation in Kohli’s work ethic.

“I used to meet him during the IPL and he never missed his fitness session. Most of the time, I saw him working out in the gym. His focus was way ahead of all of us. Often, cricketers do get lazy and have a ‘cheat day’ but Virat would never do that,” he says.

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