Virat Kohli turned 35 on Sunday (November 5), and will be hoping to celebrate it in style as India take on South Africa, at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The swashbuckling batter has been in hot form, and is currently standing in third position in the top-scorer list at the ongoing World Cup, with 442 runs in seven matches, packed with four half-centuries (including a score in 90s) and a hundred.
Against South Africa, Kohli will be hoping to equal Sachin Tendulkar’s world record of 49 ODIs, it could be a special affair as he got his first international century in Kolkata in 2009. To celebrate his birthday, the ICC posted a special video on Instagram, where Kohli’s teammates Shubman Gill, R Ashwin and Hardik Pandya shared their special birthday messages for him. There was also a wish from head coach Rahul Dravid, who called him a legend.
The video began with Dravid hailing Kohli, and praising his standard of performances. “Virat’s a legend of the game and especially this format (ODI). All formats of the game, but particularly this one. The performances; the way he’s been able to finish games, the standard of his performances over the years has probably set a benchmark for his generation of cricketers,” said the India legend.
Meanwhile, Pandya, who has been ruled out midway through the World Cup due to injury, also had a message for Kohli and his fans. Explaining Kohli’s legendary status, Pandya said, “He has got the fitness culture. He has got the bond. He’s always there in the game. And that is something I think which will inspire, obviously a lot of us, but at the same point of time, a lot of millions of fans as well.”
Pacer Bumrah also had a message for Kohli, and he said, “That fire and dedication towards the game after playing for so long has not fallen down. It only keeps on getting up. So that is something that I can also learn and everyone who watches the game, I am sure, learns a lot from.”
Veteran Ashwin, who is considered to be one of Kohli’s trusted players during his captaincy days, said, “He’s changed the DNA of thinking around Indian cricket. How one batsman needs to perceive it. How one batter needs to prepare for a game.”
Young Gill also paid his respects, and said, “His hunger and his passion for the game are unparalleled. I have not seen anyone who is as hungry and as passionate as him.”
Kohli’s former teammate Yuvraj Singh also took to Twitter to wish him. Yuvraj, who won the 2011 World Cup with the RCB star, wrote, “When you joined the team as a youngster who was eager for opportunities and hungry to perform, it was clear to everyone that you were destined for greatness. You’ve not only made a mark for yourself but have also inspired countless others to strive for excellence.”
“As you celebrate another year of breaking and setting records, take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve achieved. Proud to have shared this incredible journey with you, and to see you grow from strength to strength. May your passion and determination continue to drive you and the Indian team to new heights in the World Cup and make our nation proud once again. Happy Birthday #KingKohli @imVkohli,” he further added.
Here are the other reactions:
The match against South Africa will be crucial for India, as it could decide who will top the table in the league phase. Also, Rohit Sharma would like to enter the semi-finals with an unbeaten run, to further boost his side’s confidence.