In the second and final Test against the West Indies, due to start at Queen’s Park Oval on Thursday, Kohli will become the fourth Indian to earn 500 caps, joining Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid himself and MS Dhoni.
“His (Kohli’s) numbers and statistics speak for themselves, it’s all in the books. He is certainly an inspiration to so many players within this team and to so many people, boys and girls in India,” Dravid said on the eve of the Test.
“It’s nice to see Virat’s journey. When I first played he was a young man emerging. He wasn’t really involved in the team as such. I watched him from the outside with a lot of admiration for what he has done and what he continues to achieve.”
Dravid said that Kohli’s longevity and achievements in all three formats were the result of sacrifices and hard work “behind the scenes”.
“I didn’t know this is his 500th game. For me, what’s been great is seeing the efforts and the work that he puts in behind the scenes when nobody’s looking. And that’s great for a coach because a lot of young players will see that and be inspired.”
“That’s due to a lot of hard work behind the scenes. A lot of sacrifices he’s made throughout his career and he’s willing to continue to make. Longevity comes with a lot of hard work, discipline and adaptability and he’s shown all of that. See you later.”
Kohli, 34, has come a long way since making his ODI debut under Dhoni in a match against Sri Lanka at Dambulla in August 2008. He has featured in 274 ODIs, 115 T20Is and 110 Tests.
He is the only player to have over 4000 runs in T20I and the fifth most prolific batsman in ODI history (12898 from 274 appearances with 46 hundreds). He has played 110 Tests, scoring 8555 runs.
Former captain and legendary hitter Dravid said Kohli shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
“That’s reflected in the fact that he’s been able to play 500 games, he’s still very strong, very fit, and the energy that he brings to the game and being around for 12-13 years, that’s really fantastic. And it’s not easy.
“You don’t have to say anything, but the way you carry yourself, the way you carry yourself, the way you practice, the way you do fitness becomes an inspiration to a lot of other young players coming into the system.”
Dravid was part of the Indian Test team that last traveled to the West Indies in 2011, along with Kohli. However, he admitted that it was only in recent times that their relationship really blossomed as they spent time working together with a common goal for Indian cricket.
“And now being able to get to know him a little bit over the last 18 months, interact with him, get to know him personally as well, it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve learned a lot from him and in many ways really enjoyed it, and I hope he did too,” Dravid said.
(With contributions from PTI)