Kohli proves Jennings right

“Kohli is certainly captaincy material. I can see him taking over the reins of Royal Challengers in the near future. But more significantly, he could be a very good captain for India when his time comes,” Jennings had told this paper.

Perhaps it was the first time someone had tipped Kohli for the top job, and it was a massive turnaround for the Delhiite, who till then was viewed as a talented but highly impetuous kid. Jennings’ words also offered the first signs of Kohli gaining confidence within the Royal Challengers set up.

The other definitive sign of the management’s trust came when they revamped the team in early 2011 through the auction. RCB let go players like Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid, Ross Taylor and Dale Steyn, deciding to retain only Kohli. It was a clear indication of their desire to invest in Kohli.

The Delhi lad has repaid their faith with interest so far, amassing 402 runs from 11 matches with three fifties. The Bangalore outfit didn’t have to think long to choose a stand-in captain when regular skipper Daniel Vettori had to return home with a knee injury, and Kohli has done a good job till now.

Undoubtedly, Kohli has matured a lot in recent times as a batsman and an individual, shades of that brash youngster hardly visible. There are other aspects that make Kohli dear to the Challengers, as he also brings them commercial value. “He has gone on to become the face of the Royal Challengers. Kohli is a big hit among youngsters and now they can relate more to RCB through Kohli. He’s a long-term prospect for us,” an RCB official said.

Amidst all the adulation, Kohli has managed to keep his feet firmly on the ground. Kohli says he has benefitted from sharing dressing-room space with two modern-day greats – Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid. “I am fortunate enough to have interacted on a regular basis with cricketers like Anil and Rahul in the RCB dressing room. Those interactions made me aware of the sacrifices I need to make to join an elite of club of cricketers,” Kohli said.

Though he has been widely touted to take over as RCB skipper at some stage, the captaincy came as a bit of surprise for Kohli. “Yeah, it came all of a sudden for me. Coach came and told me at Jaipur on the afternoon of the match that I was leading the side.
“As a batsman, my role also changes with the captaincy because I have to ensure that I am there till the team goes past the finish line. It’s challenging and comes with more responsibility, but it’s not beyond my abilities,” Kohli said.

Gifted lad, batting mainstay and captain --- Kohli has donned all possible roles over four IPL seasons with considerable success while charting the course of his destiny with assurance. Jennings might be sporting a satisfied smile!

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