When Indian cricketer Virat Kohli was 18, his father had a massive heart attack at 3am in the morning and died.
The young batsman was 40 not out overnight, in the grip of a game.
“I called my [Delhi] coach in the morning,” Kohli, now 27, told, “I said I wanted to play, because for me not completing a cricket game is a sin.
“That was a moment that changed me as a person. The importance this sport holds in my life is very, very high.”
Given his almost divine talent, it’s probably fair to say that Kohli has become one of Indian cricket’s gods.
Adored for his remorseless batting — Kohli single handedly took the Indian side to the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 this year — the cricketer is aware that his driven nature has its downsides.
His raw, uncensored on-pitch passion is considered by some parts of conservative Indian society as unnecessary aggression.
“My temper has been an issue for me,” Kohli concedes. “It’s been very hard to control at times.”
In February, Kohli was fined 30% of his match fee for verbally abusing the umpire after it was ruled he had been leg before wicket in an Asia Cup T20 match against Pakistan.
There have been confrontations with players, journalists, umpires and even the fans and it’s become a sore point in India.
“When I came in,” Kohli says, “I had tattoos, I used to dress up in a certain way, do things I felt were fine for me, but didn’t go towards the typical moral behavior [of a cricketer in India.]
“But I knew in my heart I was working hard at my sport. There is no particular moral [code] for how you should think and … behave just because you are a cricketer.
“If you don’t see the results there then you have the right to criticize.”
Results have never been a problem for Kohli.
Nicknamed “the run machine”, he has risen from leading his country’s Under-19 team to victory at the 2008 World Cup to become India’s international Test captain.
In 2014, he was named ICC World Twenty20 Player of the Tournament.
Price of fame
But there’s a downside to being one of the most famous sportsmen in India — some days Kohli says he cannot even leave the house.
“When I think of having a house, I think of having everything inside it … because for me going out of the house even to have a meal is like a mission.”
The price of fame, though, is one thing Kohli has managed to remain calm about.
“It used to irritate me, but I’ve come to accept the fact I have to stay in the house.
“It takes a lot of planning to go out.”
He is the second batsman in the world — the first being Sourav Ganguly — to have scored 1,000 or more ODI runs for four consecutive calendar years.