In 2008, a teenage Virat Kohli first came into the limelight as the captain of the India under-19 team that won the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia. It wasn't long before the Delhi boy made it to the Indian national side. However, his first stint with the Indian team turned out to be a disappointment. But Kohli wasn't going to give up. He returned to the Indian team next year and didn't look back.
Let us trace Virat's journey to the legendary status that he has acquired by looking at 5 innings which together catapulted him to iconic status in not just Indian but also world cricket.
107 vs Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens (December 24, 2009)
This innings can be regarded as the arrival of Kohli on the big stage. In this match, the fourth of the series, the Sri Lankans had set a target of 316 for India to win. Virat, whose reputation as the world's greatest chaser of scores was still in the future, scored 107 and shared a 224-run partnership with Gautam Gambhir to take India to victory. This was the first international hundred for Kohli and a justification of the faith selectors had shown in him.
118 vs Australia at Vishakhapatnam (October 20, 2010)
This was a crucial innings for Kohli as he was up against the World Champions in this game. India had to chase a target of 290 under lights and the future Indian captain showed his class once again. A brilliant innings of 118 set up India's 5-wicket win. While the Australian attack wasn't the most impressive, this was still a team that had beaten India in India just a year back. Now, with his scintillating stroke-play, Virat once again proved his mettle and convinced even the doubters of his incredible talent.
75 vs Australia at Perth (3rd Test, January 13-15, 2012)
It was this innings that turned around Kohli's Test career. He struggled in his maiden series in West Indies and had failed in the first two matches of the 4-Test contest in Australia. At Perth, on a fast, searing wicket, most of the Indian batsmen seemed out of their depth. However, Virat looked perfectly at ease in both innings and seemed to have extra time on his hands to play his shots. He had batted well in the first innings to score 44 but had thrown away his wicket. But in the second innings, he ensured that he got a good fifty which removed all lingering doubts about his capabilities in the longest format.
133* vs Sri Lanka at Hobart (February 28, 2012)
How good was this innings can be gauged by the fact that some of the commentators deemed it the greatest innings in ODI history. India were set a target of 321 to win but they had to achieve it in 40 overs or less in order to keep their chances of reaching the final of this tri-series alive. What Kohli produced was an innings that was dazzling in the extreme. His knock of 133 from 86 balls ensured that India reached the target in just 36.4 overs. The biggest highlight of this innings was the brutal treatment meted out to Lasith Malinga by him. The Sri Lankan pacer conceded 96 runs in just 7.4 overs, mainly thanks to Virat's hitting. It was a show to remember.
149 vs England at Birmingham (1st Test, August 1-4, 2018)
By the time this tour of England came about, Kohli had achieved almost everything worth achieving. There was just one doubt that remained about his ability: can he succeed in England, especially against James Anderson. In India's previous tour to the country, he had failed to score even one fifty in 10 innings and was dismissed very often by the English swing expert. It was believed that only a good performance in England separated Kohli and true greatness. The contest in the first Test between him and Anderson was gripping. The Indian captain had a slice of luck when he was dropped in the slips off the bowling of his nemesis. Kohli put aside his ego and refused to play any dangerous drives outside the off-stump. This proved decisive as he scored a hundred that eventually led him to score nearly 600 runs in the series. England was conquered by Virat and no doubts remained about his legendary status.