World champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu has been confirmed for sports most prestigious honour – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. The committee has also recommended Virat Kohli’s name. However, the Indian cricket team captain and batting legend will have to wait for the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports clearance.
The awards committee has jointly recommended Mirabai Chanu and Kohli for the Khel Ratna. However, if the Ministry did not clear the proposal for the joint awards, Mirabai Chanu is the first and automatic choice for the Khel Ratna for 2018, a source associated with the recommendation has confirmed to insidesport.co.
This is the third successive year that Kolhi’s name has been recommended for the Khel Ratna. The batting maestro and his millions of fans will be hoping for it to be the third time lucky.
The BCCI has been nominating Kohli for the Khel Ratna for the past three years but in 2016, it was given to Sakshi Malik, PV Sindhu and Deepa Karmakar for their good show at the Rio Olympic Games. Last year, the Khel Ratna was awarded to former India hockey captain Sardar Singh and para-athlete Devendra Jhajharia.
Smriti Mandhana, women’s national team batter, is the only other cricketer to be named for the prestigious awards this year. She has been named for the Arjuna Award along with Asian Games gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, Jinsen Johnson and Hima Das (all for athletics), N Sikki Reddy (Badminton), Satish Kumar (Boxing), Manpreet Singh and Savita (both Hockey), Col Ravi Rathore (Polo), Ankur Mittal, Rahi Sarnabot and Shreyasi Singh (all Shooting), G Sathiyan and Manika Batra (booth Table Tennis), Sumit (Wrestling), Rohan Bopanna (Tennis), Pooja kKadian (Wushu), Shubhankar Sharma (Golf), Ankur Dham ( Para athletics) and Manoj Sarkar ( Para Badminton).
Kohli will become the third Indian cricketer after legendary Sachin Tendulkar (1997) and the talismanic former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2007) once the Ministry of Youth Affair and Sports puts a stamp of acceptance on the committee’s recommendation, adds PTI.
Kohli, the world’s No.1 Test batsman as per the ICC rankings, has been in stupendous form for the past three years and missed out despite nominations in the years 2016 and 2017. The 29-year-old currently has 6147 runs in 71 Tests with 23 centuries and 9779 runs in 211 ODIs, including 35 tons.
Kohli is one of those rare sportspersons, who has received Padma Shri Award (2017) before Khel Ratna. This year, Kohli was a favourite after having led India to victories against England and Australia at home and away wins against West Indies and Sri Lanka. The Indian team has also won limited-overs series in South Africa under Kohli’s leadership. He is a member of the 2011 ICC World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy winning team. He also led the team to the finals of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.