Cricketer Virat Kohli and weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu have been recommended for the country's highest sports awards, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award on Monday.
Kohli, 29, became the first Indian after legendary Sachin Tendulkar to top the ICC Test batting charts. The India captain has scored runs everywhere, in loads. In the just concluded tour of England, the right-handed batsman scored two hundreds in the losing cause. India, however, lost the five-match series 1-4.
The 29-year-old may become second-time lucky after failing to get the selection committee's nod in 2016, a source in the awards selection committee told PTI.
This year, Kohli is 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. Kohli has also been the recipient of ICC's 'ODI Cricketer of the Year' in 2012 and 2017 along with the sport's highest honour -- the ICC Cricketer of the Year. He has won the Indian Cricketer of the Year on five occasions.
The skipper ended the recent England series with a phenomenal 593 runs even though it was not considered in the selection cycle.
Mirabai, 24, was recommended for the prestigious award following her gold medal in 48kg category at the World Championships last year.
She also bagged the yellow metal in this year's Commonwealth Games but didn't compete at the Asian Games due to injury.
For Chanu, the award comes as a massive morale-booster as the Manipuri girl is currently recovering from a lower back injury, which forced her to skip the Asian Games in Jakarta. She is the current Commonwealth Games gold-medallist and India's only medal hope in weightlifting going into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
A source in the committee told PTI that shuttler Kidambi Srikanth's name was also been discussed.
If approved the Sports Ministry, both Kohli and Mirabi will become the third cricketer and weighlifter respectively to get the Khel Ratna.
Karnam Malleswari (1995-Weightlifting), Nameirakpam Kunjarani (Weightlifting-1996), Tendulkar (1997-Cricket) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2007-) have previously won the awards.
Here's the list of players who have won Khel Ratna:
1. 1992 - Viswanathan Anand (Chess)
2. 1993 - Geet Sethi (Billiards)
3. 1994(2) - Homi Motivala and Garg Pushpendra Kumar (Yachting-Team Event)
4. 1995 - Karnam Malleswari (Weightlifting)
5. 1996 - Nameirakpam Kunjarani (Weightlifting)
6. 1997 - Leander Paes (Tennis)
7. 1998 - Sachin Tendulkar (cricket)
8. 1999 - Jyotirmoyee Sikdar (Athletics)
9. 2000 - Dhanraj Pillay (Hockey)
10. 2001(2) - Pullela Gopichand (Badminton) and Abhinav Bindra (Shooting)
11. 2002(2) - KM Beenamol (Athletics) and Anjali Bhagwat (Shooting)
12. 2003 - Anju Bobby George (Athletics)
13. 2004 - Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Shooting)
14. 2005 - Pankaj Advani (Billiards and Snooker)
15. 2006 - Manavjit Singh Sandhu (Shooting)
16. 2007 - Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Cricket)
17. 2009(3) - Mary Kom (Boxing), Vijender Singh (Boxing), Sushil Kumar (Wrestling)
18. 2010 - Saina Nehwal (Badminton)
19. 2011 - Gagan Narang (Shooting)
20. 2012(2) - Vijay Kumar (Shooting), Yogeshwar Dutt (Wrestling)
21. 2013 - Ronjan Sodhi (Shooting)
22. 2015 - Sania Mirza (Tennis)
23. 2016(4) - PV Sindhu (Badminton), Dipa Karmakar (Gymnastics), Jitu Rai (Shooting), Sakshi Malik (Wrestling)
24. 2017(2) - Devendra Jhajharia (Para Athlete), Sardara Singh (Hockey)
No awards were given in 2008 and 2014.
Meanwhile, Neeraj Chopra (Athletics), Jinsen Johnson (Athletics), Hima Das (Athletics), N Sikki Reddy (Badminton), Smriti Mandhana (Cricket), Manpreet Singh (hockey), Rohan Bopanna (Tennis) among 20 athletes recommended for Arjuna award.
Mirabai’s coach Vijay Sharma and cricketer Rishabh Pant’s coach Tarak Singh have also been recommended for the prestigious Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand Awards.
(With PTI inputs)