Virat Kohli only cricketer among Forbes' top 100 richest athletes in 2019

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India captain Virat Kohli.

India captain Virat Kohli was the only cricketer in the Forbes 100 highest-paid athletes for 2019.

Kohli was the 100th name on the list, with total earnings of $25 million (Dh91m). His earnings included $4m from match fees and $21m from endorsements. Kohli’s match fee includes his $1m India contract and IPL deal.

Kohli’s low salary – compared to other athletes, especially NBA and NFL players – meant he was right at the bottom of the list, even as his endorsement list compared favourably to that of NBA stars Russell Westbrook (16th on the list with $35.7m earnings and $18m in endorsements) and James Harden (20th with $30.7m salary and $17m in endorsements).

India wicketkeeper batsman MS Dhoni was once among the 100 highest-paid athletes but has now slipped out of the list.

Lionel Messi emerged as the highest paid athlete for 2018/2019. Messi took home a cool $127m through salary and endorsement deals.

Second on the list is Messi’s long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo who earned $109m in total.

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Kohli lauds clinical India after 90-run win over Kiwis in second ODI

Sudhir Gupta 26/01/2019
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Virat Kohli lauded India's clinical win in Mount Maunganui.

India took a 2-0 lead in their ODI series against New Zealand with a commanding 90-run victory at the Bay Oval.

Openers Rohit Sharma (87) and Shikhar Dhawan (66) got the visitors off to a perfect start as India set their opponents a target of 325 to win.

New Zealand fell well short and were bowled out for 234 inside 41 overs, with Kuldeep Yadav taking four wickets. Doug Bracewell’s defiant 57, his first international half-century, was too little, too late for the hosts.

India will now seal the series with two matches to spare if they triumph again in their next meeting on Monday.

Captain Virat Kohli lauded another clinical effort from his team. Kohli said India probably finished 20 runs shy of where they should have been after being well placed at 173-2 after 30 overs but said the attacking mindset of his bowlers ensured New Zealand fell well short of the target.

“We were really balanced with the bat. A target of 325 was par, not something you feel comfortable considering New Zealand’s batting. We would like to score those 15-20 runs extra but at the same time, our bowlers are not content to go wicketless for 40 runs; they’d rather go for 60 and take three wickets. That mindset is crucial for us,” Kohli said after the win.

His counterpart Kane Williamson was disappointed at being outplayed at home for the second straight match after  Kiwis were shot out for 157 in the first match.

“It’s not so much the losing, it’s the way we’ve been losing. We showed glimpses in the chase, we just didn’t do it long enough. Two games in a row we have not had control at any stage, but we need to take small steps,” Williamson said.

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More than awards, Virat Kohli's love of Test cricket will be his defining legacy

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Virat Kohli became the first man to do a clean sweep of ICC's mens' awards.

It might be hard to remember, but in the initial stages of his career, Virat Kohli was known as a limited-overs specialist. He made his ODI debut for India in 2008, was an established middle-order player by the time the team won the World Cup in 2011, and, in 2012, he was named the ICC’s ODI Player of the Year. He only made his Test debut in 2011, and wasn’t named to a Test team of the year until 2017.

It took Kohli four Tests to record his first 50, and eight matches for his first century, in his 14th innings. His batting average first crossed 40 after 10 matches, and it took him 52 matches to cross all-important threshold of 50, the mark that separates the very good from the great. That came in 2016, during India‘s home series against England.

So for the first five years of his Test career, he wasn’t all that great.

Well, look at him now.

On Tuesday Kohli became the first person to do a clean sweep of ICC’s mens’ awards – ICC Cricketer of the Year, ODI Player of the Year, and Test Player of the Year for 2018, and the second person, after Ricky Ponting in 2006 and 2007, to win Cricketer of the Year in consecutive years. He’s also captain of both the men’s Test and ODI teams of the year.

Remarkably, it’s actually the first time he’s won the Test award, and only the second time he’s been named to the Test team of the year, whereas he’s won the ODI award three times now and been named to the ODI team of the year five times.

Kohli’s recent Test form, and his proclamations regarding Test cricket, are signs of someone deeply in love with the game’s oldest and longest format. He calls it “the most beautiful format” and recently said he wanted India to become a “superpower” in Test cricket.

And that makes this award hugely significant.

As captain and best player of the team representing cricket’s largest audience, and most powerful board, Kohli is in a uniquely influential position. Test cricket seems forever stuck in a cycle of fighting for relevance, being declared as a dying format, and reviving itself. The money is in T20 leagues, and the shortest format is also the most viewer-friendly and thus the one easiest to use to attract new fans.

But Kohli’s love of Test cricket has been shining through over the last few years. He called it beautiful in an interview last year, a sentiment he’s expressed often. The India captain understands the value of achievements in Test cricket, and passes that philosophy down to his country’s next generation.

It’s not just that players like Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah, who like Kohli started off being viewed as limited-overs specialists, have begun making their name in Test cricket. It’s more that despite the glamour of the shorter formats, and their own suitability for ODI and T20 cricket, they are part of a generation that has a fierce desire to succeed in Tests. Pant has been named ICC’s Emerging Player of the Year purely on the back of Test form. Both players made the Test team of the year in their debut years.

It’s hard not to see Kohli’s influence there. As a star performer of the format, he’s setting an example that the budding cricketers looking up to him now will want to follow. As captain, he’s instilling that desire in his team. India’s next captain will have spent the formative years of his career taking lessons from Kohli on the importance of Test cricket, and have a similar desire to succeed.

As a statesman of the game, his words carry weight all across India, with their billion-strong contingent of fans and their board, and ultimately, that message spreads throughout the cricket world.

And perhaps Kohli’s nature as a rabble-rouser on the pitch even helps Test cricket’s cause. If he’s getting under everyone’s skin, everyone will want to beat him that much more, adding spice, drama, and entertainment to the Test series he plays.

Where Kohli ends up among the greats as a Test batsman is almost immaterial. With 25 centuries and 6613 runs, and at 30 at least three to four years left at his peak, if not more, he should cross the 10,000-run threshold. If he ends up matching Sachin Tendulkar’s longevity and plays until his late 30s or even 40, the India great’s overall records of 51 centuries and 15,921 runs are within reach, just about.

At the very least, his form should allow him to add to his awards collection.

There are other peaks to scale, of course. 2021 will see away series against England and South Africa, a chance to avenge 2018’s losses in those two countries. He’s well on his way to becoming the greatest ODI batsman – indeed, some are saying he already has. And there are conceivably two more World Cups where he’ll be captain, one this year in England and one in 2023 on home turf.

But with his love for Test cricket translating into team and individual success, he’s already creating a legacy that goes beyond mere records and trophies.

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