Kohli at home with old friends

The occasion was a felicitation function organised for him by the West Delhi Cricket Academy here on Sunday on him being bestowed with the Padma Shri and also for his elevation to captaincy in all three formats of the game.

Virat Kohli flanked by mother Saroj and coach Rajkumar Sharma at a function to felicitate him by the West Delhi Cricket Academy.   -  Special Arrangement

Virat Kohli is at ease in the company he has loved from the time he wanted to be a cricketer — family, friends and coaches from his formative years.

The occasion was a felicitation function organised for him by the West Delhi Cricket Academy here on Sunday on him being bestowed with the Padma Shri and also for his elevation to captaincy in all three formats of the game. The one thing he communicated in the select gathering was his humility.

“He is so grounded,” remarked close friend Raman Gujral, effectively conveying the impressions of a group of club cricketers who have known Kohli from the time he was making waves in the local league. “He has remained humble and it is a quality that distinguishes him. His desire to learn and the commitment to be involved all the time is a strong part of his character now. Indian cricket is proud of him and we at the WDCA just adore him,” said Rajkumar Sharma, the coach who shaped this gem of a cricketer.

Kohli fondly remembered his days at the WDCA. “I am so happy to see people here whom I saw on my first day at the academy. Atul (Wassan) Sir, (Suresh) Batra Sir. I can't forget the day I returned home after being hit by some balls since I had played in the senior group. My mother was worried and she came to the academy to speak to Rajkumar Sir. He assured her it was nothing to worry about. She did not have to come to the academy again” said Kohli.

To the delight of the audience, Virat shared his feelings when he was appointed captain of the Indian team. “I told my coach that my mind flashed back to the time when I would cycle to the academy with my kit bag. It's been an unbelievable journey. I am glad to share my good times with the same people today. My roots are at the academy and I learn something new every time I go there,” he said.

Kohli also spoke of how he dealt with pressure. “I am doing what I loved from childhood — play cricket. I am so focussed that pressure doesn't affect me. I don't worry about win or loss. I look at the larger picture and my daily hard work pays off. I just focus on staying in my zone. It helps me stay calm. It helps me tackle pressure.”

Also present at the function were his brother (Vikas), mother (Saroj) and his childhood friends. Veteran cricket official Rajeev Shukla also narrated a few anecdotes and implored Kohli to be less “demonstrative and angry” on the field. The star cricketer responded with a reverential nod.