When a ‘spoilt brat’ honoured ‘spirit of cricket’...

Mumbai/ Dubai: After ‘years of being under the scanner for the wrong things’, Indian captain Virat Kohli was ‘surpised’ to have won the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award for 2019 on Wednesday.

Back in 2008, when the 20-year-old broke into the international circuit, he gave the impression of being an immensely talented but temperamental kid who never shied away from verbal spats and taking on the opposition.

"I'm surprised that I have got it, after many years of being under the scanner for the wrong things," Kohli said in a statement issued by the ICC.

Whenever he used to reach a milestone, it was for sure that fans would see some of the choicest expletives come out of his mouth.

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While his predecessors like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman preferred talking with the bat, Kohli never shied away from giving it back to the opposition.

He was even called a "spoilt brat" by Australian cricketers after the culmination of numerous events that unfolded during India's 2014 tour Down Under.

While he was still scoring runs, more often than not, Kohli was involved in controversies and was criticised by many in the cricket fraternity.

Not to forget the famous Sydney Test where after being sledged by the crowd, Kohli was seen flipping the bird to the crowd, something which he later said he regretted doing.

The Delhi boy, has won the ICC award for 2019 for his gesture at last year's World Cup, when he egged the crowd on to support Australian batsman Steve Smith rather than boo him soon after his return to international cricket from a one-year suspension for the infamous sandpaper-gate controversy.

Explaining his reasons for backing Smith the way he did, Kohli said: "It is part of camaraderie that sportsmen must have with each other. That moment was purely understanding an individual's situation."

"I don't think a guy who is coming out of a situation like that needs to be taken advantage of. You can sledge, can have banter on the field, you say things to the opposition in wanting to beat them. But booing someone is not in the spirit of any sport, I don't endorse it.

"Also, that should not be a representation of our fans and what we stand as a cricketing nation, a sporting nation. We need to all take responsibility towards that," he added.

"Intimidate the opposition, definitely try and have an upper hand but in a matter that is not targeting someone emotionally. That is not acceptable at any level and people should be wary of that," Kohli says.

Cut to recent years, while the aggression and passion for the game remains the same, Kohli has now become much more relaxed, and mature