The Indian Express Power List, which ranks the 100 most powerful Indians, for the year 2016 is out. Four sportspersons have made the cut this time around and Virat Kohli, at rank 42, is highest-ranked. Also on the list are Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza and India’s limited-overs captain MS Dhoni.
Virat Kohli, 27
Rank ’16: 42
Rank ’15: 69
Why: At 27, he is India’s Test captain and easily one of the best young batsmen in the world. Last year, under his captaincy, India became the No. 1 Test side. Kohli is the ICC’s top T20 batsman and No. 2 in ODIs.
Power Punch: On a cricket field, he is always expressive, occasionally abusive too. Off the field, he is one of India’s most articulate sporting personalities. Kohli has cracked the complex art of multi-tasking. He can train for hours, shoot ad campaigns and attend Bollywood events. He has close to 10 million Twitter followers and a brand value of approximately Rs 100 crore.
What Next: It’s a matter of time before he replaces MS Dhoni as the India skipper in the ODI and T20 formats. Kohli’s next aim will be to better his mildly-anaemic Test record.
By the way: The west Delhi boy usually dines on pink salmon and a bottle of top-end mineral water on his overseas tours. He recently got into a business tie-up with Real Madrid star Gareth Bale.
Saina Nehwal, 25
Rank ’16: 84
Rank ’15: 86
Why: Nehwal is the first Indian to make it to the top in women’s singles badminton. In August last year, the 25 year old broke the jinx of five World Championship quarterfinal losses to finally pick up a silver. She also won the Indian Super Series last year, another tournament on the circuit she hadn’t cracked before.
Power Punch: With 10 endorsements in her kitty, she can be compared to mid-level cricketers. She questioned it openly when she wasn’t given a Padma Bhushan in 2015, and this year was named for the award.
What Next: She will aim for a gold at the Olympics this year. She’s still to win the All England.
By the Way: She mimics Akshay Kumar-Paresh Rawal comedies and posts Dubsmashes on Twitter.
Sania Mirza, 29
Rank ’16: 85
New on the list
Why: Starting 2015 at No. 6, Sania Mirza went on to become World No. 1 in doubles, with Martina Hingis. The pair, who are known as Santina, started their dream run at Wimbledon and have won the US Open and this year’s Australian Open titles.
Power Punch: Her Adidas deal is on a par with Virat Kohli’s and her tournament earnings are comparable to a top-notch cricketer’s, which is not a mean feat. Infostrada, the globally-reputed Olympics medal-predicting website, has put two medals against her name, in the mixed and women’s double categories.
What Next: The Rio Olympics.
By the Way: She loves the American medical drama series Grey’s Anatomy.
M S Dhoni, 34
Rank ’16: 89
Rank ’15: 91
Why: He may have retired from Test cricket in 2014, but he continues to be a powerful influence on Indian cricket in the shorter version of the game.
Power Punch: A film on Dhoni will hit the screens in September this year.
What Next: India will be hosting the World T20 this year. Could it be his swangsong?
By the Way: Since his daughter Ziva was born, Dhoni has started carrying a mobile phone.
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