As Virat Kohli gears up to lead India’s charge at the ICC World Cup 2023, speculation is rife over whether the mega event could mark the final act of his illustrious ODI career. At 34, Kohli is nearing the age when many modern legends chose to draw the curtains on their 50-over careers. The likes of Michael Clarke, Shane Bond, Shane Watson, Kieron Pollard, Alex Hales and Steven Finn all retired from ODIs at 34. Yet, Kohli has shown few signs of slowing down despite his advancing years.
Fresh off a sensational Asia Cup where he smashed a record-breaking ton against Pakistan, Kohli’s hunger and motivation appear as strong as ever. According to AB de Villiers, Kohli’s longtime RCB teammate, the batting maestro remains incredibly fit both mentally and physically even at 34. De Villiers highlighted how Kohli has been intelligently rested at times by team management to maintain his hunger and motivation. Furthermore, the sheer passion and emotion Kohli displays on the field are a clear indication of how much winning means to him across formats.
In De Villiers’ view, Kohli’s sole focus is on being part of a successful unit for India and he remains driven by a burning desire to win World Cups for his country. Individual records and statistics are secondary to Kohli’s ultimate goal of guiding India to major titles. As such, the upcoming World Cup on home soil will mean the world to Kohli, who will undoubtedly be determined to script history by leading India to their third ODI World Cup triumph.
If India does emerge victorious in the World Cup, De Villiers opined that it may prompt Kohli to announce his retirement from ODI cricket. With little left to prove in the format, Kohli could opt to preserve his energy and prolong his career by concentrating on Test matches and IPL for the remainder of his playing days. Calling time on ODIs would also allow Kohli to spend more time with family off the field.
Of course, Kohli is also on the verge of shattering Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most ODI centuries. With 43 tons already to his name, Kohli requires just 7 more to surpass Tendulkar’s tally of 49 – a record once deemed untouchable. While the record would undoubtedly serve as the cherry on top of a fantastic career, it likely remains a secondary milestone for Kohli behind winning major titles with India.
Regardless of when Kohli does choose to retire from ODI cricket, he has already cemented his legacy as one of the greatest batters the format has ever seen. In ODIs, Kohli boasts an astronomical average of 57.68, having amassed 12,311 runs from 280 matches. His astonishing consistency and ability to anchor India’s batting in run chases has made him a modern ODI legend. Beyond the runs and stats, Kohli’s unmatched passion and intensity have made him a fan favorite across the cricketing world.
For now, the focus is firmly on the World Cup and Kohli’s chance to create history on home soil. Should India emerge victorious, it may provide the perfect stage for one of ODI cricket’s icons to sign off in style. But whether at the World Cup or further down the line, the day Kohli does retire will be remembered as the end of an era for cricket.