When I started watching cricket, in 2003, there were two cricketers whose names were always pronounced with utmost awe and respect. One was Brian Lara and the other was Sachin Tendulkar. Although I had the privilege of watching Sachin for good 10 years since then, I still regret the fact that I missed his prime – the late 90s – wherein he was an absolute freak. With Lara, I was even more unfortunate as he retired in 2007.
After 16 years, I can finally assert, with pride and gumption, that I have witnessed a batting superstar during his heydays. I have followed an incredible journey(that is far from over) right from the very beginning. I have watched Virat Kohli bat with my naked eyes and that is a story I can pass on to generations !
Most of us, for one reason or the other, are drawn more to ‘attitude‘ than ‘aptitude‘. We like Rahul Dravid more for his dignified behavior than for his flick through mid-wicket. We don’t talk about MS Dhoni the batsman as much as MS Dhoni the captain. I had never bought into this. As long as a player acts within the rules of the sport, all that matters to me is his performance. And process. If he also turns out to be a nice guy, well, so be it !
That’s why I would like less of ‘Passion’ and ‘Commitment’ in this piece. That’s why I don’t care if he is seemingly ‘arrogant’. I mean, there is so much to talk about his batsmanship. Michael Clarke, former Australian captain, once said, “Don’t look at Virat when he is scoring boundaries. Look what he does when he is not scoring them.” The number of 1s and 2s he would end up with by the time he retires from limited-overs cricket, and his dot-ball percentage, will be sufficient to indicate why he is the best of his generation or, may be, of all times.
For someone with a fetish for 5-day games, the importance he gives to Test cricket is liberating. Isn’t it ridiculous that he is ranked No.2 in the world, only behind an otherworldly Steve Smith, yet it is probably his weakest format ? The phrase ‘Test cricket is dying’ is not as demoralizing as it looks when people like him are ready to wear whites, bat for hours and make the difference !
The guy has flair. The guy has class. The guy is amazingly talented. The guy works hard like the sun will never rise. The guy doesn’t shy away from imposing his figure on the biggest stages. The guy is at the peak of his powers. The guy is Virat ‘King’ Kohli !
Happy birthday, Virat Kohli ! There is so much noise around your cover drive. Please put them to rest as your bottom-hand whip is the shot of the decade !