The Board of Control for Cricket In India (BCCI) today congratulated Virat Kohli and Smriti Mandhana for being honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and the Arjuna Award respectively.
Earlier, in April, the BCCI had nominated India captain Virat Kohli for Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour in the country and Smriti Mandhana, vice-captain of the Indian Women’s T2O team for the Arjuna Award.
Both these cricketers have been proven performers and have set high benchmarks in a short period of time. While Virat has successfully led India in different formats topping the batting charts, Smriti has been scoring heavily at the top of the order with much flair.
Vinod Rai, Chairman, CoA, said, “We are extremely proud that Virat Kohli and Smriti Mandhana are being conferred with top honours by the Government of India. Virat is just the third Indian cricketer to receive the prestigious Khel Ratna award. This is a testimony to his work ethic, dedication and unwavering focus. He has led India with distinction and at the same time, set new records with the bat.”
“Playing different formats of the game, Virat has shown amazing consistency leading the side by example. This Indian team is one of the fittest sides in world cricket and a lot of credit must go to the Indian captain for bringing about this transformation,” he added.
Diana Edulji, member CoA, said, “I congratulate Virat and Smriti for this honour. I am very happy to see Smriti get the award at such a young age. She has scored centuries in Australia, England, South Africa and proved that she thrives in difficult conditions.”
“I am sure this award will push more people to take note of the progress the Indian Women’s team is making. Young girls playing cricket emulate the stars and Smriti is setting a fine example both on and off the field,” Diana said.
BCCI acting president CK Khanna said, “National Sports Awards are given to recognize and reward excellence in sports. Both Virat and Smriti have been excellent and it is a proud moment for the BCCI to see them get these awards.”
” Virat is the No. 1 batsman in Tests as well as ODIs and an exceptional leader. Smriti’s batting skills have been appreciated by one and all and she has a knack of getting big scores outside India,” Khanna said.
BCCI acting Secretary Amitabh Choudhary said, “The Khel Ratna award is yet another feather in Virat Kohli’s cap. He was named the ICC Player of the Year in 2017, he swept the BCCI awards and has now been conferred with the highest sporting award, which is truly a remarkable feat. His hunger for runs is insatiable and I am sure under his leadership, the Indian team will be a top-ranked side in all three formats.”
Smriti Mandhana has proved her batting prowess against quality sides. Her powerful stroke-making and fearless approach has won her praise all over the world. Indian cricket fans have high expectations from her and I am sure she will play a stellar role in the upcoming ICC World T20,” Choudhary added.