India’s Test captain Virat Kohli may soon have another prestigious feather in his already illustrious cap.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has recommended Kohli for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country’s highest sporting honour. Ajinkya Rahane has also been been recommended for the prestigious Arjuna Award.
BCCI sources confirmed the development. It is after a gap of four years that a cricketer has been recommended for the Khel Ratna.
“We have received the recommendations from the BCCI. Their names will be sent to the awards selection committee,” a sports ministry official was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
If Kohli is selected for the honour, it will make him only the third cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar (1997-98) and MS Dhoni (2007-08) to claim the the award. If selected, Rahane will join teammates Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin, who have been previous recipients of the awards.
According to sources Kohli will be up against Incheon Asian Games gold medallist shooter Jitu Rai, golfer Anirban Lahiri, athlete Tintu Luka and squash player Deepika Pallikal for the Khel Ratna.
The Khel Ratna carries a cash reward of Rs 7.5 lakh along with a citation, while the Arjuna award consists of a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh and a citation.
The last one year has been incredible for Kohli, who was given the Test captaincy in early 2015 after the retirement of Dhoni. He went on to lead India to a series win in Sri Lanka, and followed that up with a 3-0 win against South Africa at home, becoming the number one ranked Test nation in the process. Rahane has also improved immensely and is today one of India’s most consistent batsmen, especially in the longer format.
Kohli is enjoying a fine run of form in the ongoing Indian Premier League. He was also at the top of his game in the preceding ICC World T20, singlehandedly guiding India to wins over Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. For his exploits, Kohli was named the World T20 Player of the Tournament and skipper of the World T20 team. Rahane equalled the record of holding the highest number of catches in a Test innings during India’s series win against Sri Lanka last year under Kohli’s leadership.