India head coach Rahul Dravid hailed Virat Kohli as an inspiration for many cricketers due to his enormous achievements and work ethic, reflecting on the legacy of the superstar batter who is set for his landmark 500th international match here.
Kohli will join Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid himself and MS Dhoni as the fourth Indian to play 500 international matches in the second and final Test against the West Indies, beginning at the Queen’s Park Oval here on Thursday.
“His (Kohli’s) numbers and his stats speak for themselves, it’s all there in the books. He is a real inspiration to so many players within this team without a doubt and to so many people, boys and girls back home in India,” Dravid said on the eve of the Test.
“It’s a nice to see Virat’s journey. When I first played, he was a youngster coming through. I was not really involved in the team as such. I watched him from the outside with a lot of admiration for what he has done and what he continues to achieve.”
Dravid said Kohli’s longevity and achievements in all the three formats was a result of “behind the scene” sacrifices and hardwork.
I didn’t know that this is his 500th game. For me, what has been great is to see the efforts and the work that he puts in behind the scenes when no one is watching. And that’s a great for a coach because a lot of young players will look to that and get inspired.
“That’s come because of a lot of hard work behind the scenes. A lot of sacrifices that he has made through his career and is willing to continue to make. Longevity comes with a lot of hard work, discipline, and adaptability and he has shown all of that. So, long it may continue.”
After making his debut under Dhoni in an ODI against Sri Lanka in Dambulla in August 2008, the 34-year-old Kohli has come a long way. He has played 110 Tests, 274 ODIs and 115 T20Is.
He is fifth most prolific batter in ODI history (12898 from 274 matches with 46 hundreds) and the only player to have 4000-plus runs in T20Is. In the Test format, he has scored 8555 runs from 110 matches.
Dravid, himself a former captain and legendary batter, said he does not see any signs of Kohli slowing down any time soon.
“That has reflected in the fact that he has been able to play 500 games, is still going very strong, very fit, and the energy he brings to the game and being around for 12-13 years now, that’s truly fantastic. And it does not come easy.
“You don’t have to say anything but just the way you conduct yourself the way you carry yourself, the way you go about practices, the way you go about your fitness becomes an inspiration for a lot of other young players who are coming to the system.”
Dravid was part of the Indian Test team that last travelled to the West Indies in 2011, along with Kohli. He, however, admitted that it’s only in recent times that their relationship has really blossomed as they spent time working with each other with a common goal for Indian cricket.
“And then now to be able to get to know him a little bit over the last sort of 18 months, to interact with him, to get to know him personally as well, it’s been good fun. I learnt a lot from him and in a lot of ways I really enjoyed it, and hope he has as well, said Dravid.
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