30th September 2016
My wife recently acquired a Virat Kohli limited edition smart phone. It has a hotline where you can chat with the skipper of Team India. I asked her what made her do it? She said the man is so passionate.
Of course he is. Perhaps she was impressed with the way Virat Kohli came out in support of Anushka Sharma after she was trolled on Twitter and Social Media. Perhaps she was impressed with his metrosexual disposition. Perhaps she was impressed with his body language on the field.
For on the ground he is a licking flame, waiting to devour everything around it in its wake. From his early days, Virat is a ball of fire on the ground, and it showed occasionally in violent bursts, clinched fists and punching of air. He brought with him something we Indians call attitude. Before him Sourav Ganguly had of course brought the swagger to among the Men in Blue. But after that it was a more sedate session under Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni. They were great skippers, but were gentlemen to the core.
Never for once doubt that Virat is not a gentleman. But when did that ever stop someone from cutting fire with fire. As his name means, he just always had a 'giant' heart. Right from the time he led India to the U-19 World Cup win to the matured Virat Kohli who led India to victory in the Caribbeans.
This Virat is bold, looks the opposition in the eye and outbats it with his stare, then again he is lost thinking with his eyes reduced to a squint as he looks beyond the horizon. He is in a zone then. And immediately after that he does something that the opposition is not prepared for.
He brought back the style of going with five front line bowlers and letting the opposition know that his top five were more than enough. This has helped him win matches. Horses for courses is his philosphy. But its never defensive, neither in his mind nor in his body language. Even in defeat he is defiant.
However, beyond this fire, passion and bravado is an element of maturity that is stunning. Ahead of the second Test, in the pre-match press meet, he said: "The series is going to be competitive. Test cricket is about coming back from situations rather than being top all the time. We are not pre-pannning. We feel we are skilled enough to tackle any problem that comes our way, so we go with clear heads. Then it becomes easier to adapt."
Clear head and adaptibility, these two words kill the fire risng from the heart and a cool calculating captain takes over. We see it often now. This coolness is a recent acquisition. It wasn’t there when he was a young Under-19 skipper. It was even absent in that dramatic series in Australia where he milked four centuries and played some unbelievable shots. Every ball then became a war to be won. The Aussies realised they could rub him on the wrong side and get him to play abrasively. To his credit, he snapped out of that zone quickly.
The series proved the old adage, when going gets tough the tough gets going. It is often the sign of a champion. It is also pretty rare. There are many bone-china batsmen, delicate and dandy, who would crumble at the first sign of pressure. But Kohli seemed different.
Much like the movie Bajirao Mastani where the eponymous hero wields swords in both hands, when the battle gets tough, he becomes twice the player, buoyed up and ready to wade into war. But his mind is tranquail like the centre of the ocean.
He still inspires his fielders on the field, he is still the loudest on the ground, he is still is the self-esteem the team needs. But watch him now as he bats. Unperturbed, in a happy state of mind. The anger been laid to a snooze on a slab of ice in his head.
This is Virat reloaded. Passionate yet tempered, motivated yet calculative, man of the mass yet on an island.