Virat Kohli has been hailed as “being from another planet” following his magnificent double century against England in the fourth Test in Mumbai on Monday (12).
The Indian captain smashed 235, his highest Test score, in the innings and 36-run victory that gave the hosts an unassailable 3-0 victory in the five-match series.
Former cricketers, celebrities and politicians paid tribute to his latest achievement, calling Kohli a “genius” and “legend”.
Former Indian great Sunil Gavaskar led the praise, joking: “Virat Kohli is from another planet. I think he comes from an undiscovered planet.”
National treasure Rahul Dravid said: “Kohli is already a legend.”
The love went worldwide too. Former Australian star Michael Clarke tweeted: “He is the best batsman in the world full stop”, while ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan wrote: “Sometimes you have to accept that you come up against someone too good. @imVkohli is a Genius #Fact” (sic).”
Earlier this year, even Indian prime minister Narendra Modi saluted the man of the moment for his “exemplary leadership”.
The 28-year-old Delhi-born player has scored three double-centuries this year alone, and is the first man to average over 50 runs in all three formats (Tests, ODIs and Twenty20s).
His knock helped India post a huge 631 in reply to England’s first innings total of 400. The tourists were bowled out for just 195 second around, with Ravichandran Ashwin taking six wickets, to seal the emphatic victory.
Kohli has scored seven tons and 13 half-centuries in 2016, the most by any player this year. The 2,580 combined runs in 36 matches has come at a sensational average of 88.96. He has gone past the 4,000-run mark in the Test arena to go with the 7,500 he has scored in ODIs and 1,600 in T20s.
VVS Laxman, Kohli’s former teammate, tweeted: “One more wonderful knock by @imVkohli Gr8 display of adaptability, maturity, responsibility & it was indeed a class act from a special player.”
World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev added: “Virat can very well play in all conditions. He is simply playing fabulous cricket. I have never seen a cricketer like him.”
Cricketers were not the only ones in awe of Kohli’s brilliance. Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan tweeted “Nothing better than to watch @imVkohli bat so sublime on a day off”.
And fans got involved in the action too.
“Virat Kohli is delivering more 100s than an ATM machine. #INDvENG,” tweeted a supporter with the Twitter handle @ChickenBiryanii.
The England win, India’s first series triumph against their opponents in four attempts, was a pleasing result for the big-hitter, who had struggled against Alastair Cook’s team in the past.
“This series win is probably the sweetest of all we’ve won in the past 14-15 months,” Kohli said.
“It couldn’t get any better – you win 3-0 against a top quality side that has beaten us convincingly. It feels really good.”
He has long been compared to cricketing royalty Sachin Tendulkar, although Kohli has always played down any such suggestion. The two, though, share a special bond and Kohli revealed recently he sought the advice of ‘the Little Master’ when things weren’t going to plan.
Kohli, who made his ODI debut as a 19-year-old and played his first Test match three years later, had only scored one of his 13 Test tons before the current series against England.
In England in 2014, Kohli appeared to have hit rock bottom, managing only 134 runs at an average of 13.4 and a highest score of just 39.
“It made me realise what I needed to improve in my game, so I am pretty thankful to England for that,” Kohli recalled last month. “I have been a really improved cricketer from then on.”
After his return from England, Kohli knocked on Tendulkar’s door for some tips.
“The best advice I got was not to read and look up things that are written about me,” Kohli told reporters on Monday. “I am not joking or being sarcastic. That was the best advice I got.”
Some experts claim that the move to instal Kohli as India’s Test captain after MS Dhoni retired at the end of 2014 was a major reason for his improvement in form.
Before replacing Dhoni, Kohli averaged 41, but since then it has shot up to 65.5. In all, he has scored 41 international centuries.
Five consecutive Test series victories and a number one ranking under his leadership have made him more popular than ever.
In a revealing interview with Vaughan in the Daily Telegraph last month, Kohli spoke about those Tendulkar links and what he did to turn himself into one of the world’s best with an estimated fortune of $60 million (£47.3m).
“My earliest memories are of watching Sachin bat. Watching his passion for the game, he was very different to everyone else,” he said.
“I tried to fight it (comparisons with Tendulkar) initially,” he said.“But it is part of being a cricketer in India. If you run away from it, it is going to haunt you, pressurise you and pull you down.
“I started to appreciate it. And after a while, I thought these people love me, they want me to do well. It is just they have a different way of expressing it. I needed to process it in my head.”
Recalling the off-field changes he made to get him in top shape physically and mentally, Kohli noted: “I realised if you want to stay on top playing three formats in this day and age, you need a routine. You need a set pattern of training, the way you eat, how healthy and fit you need to be. Being fitter made me mentally stronger. It was like a direct connection.
“My training was horrible, I ate so bad, I was up late, I was having a drink or two regularly. It was a horrible mindset.
“One day, I looked at myself in the mirror and said: ‘You can’t look like this if you want to be a professional cricketer’.
“I was 11 or 12 kg heavier than I am now, I was really chubby. I changed everything, from what I eat to how I train. I was in the gym for an hour-and-a-half every day. Working really hard, off gluten, off wheat, no cold drinks, no desserts, nothing. It was tough.
“From 2015 I changed my training again. I started lifting weights. It was unbelievable. I saw the results. This training is addictive. The last year-and-a-half it has taken my game to another level.”
Kohli still has plenty of ambitions left, though. “One of the things I would love is for this team to win a series outside India, not just in one place but everywhere we go. To me, it is not about winning one Test, saying we made history and then not being able to follow that up.”