Virat Kohli: The Man Who Makes Miracles Seem Mundane
Illustration: Shruti Yatam
Over the years, fans of Indian cricket have worshipped different gods and their virtues
– Sunil Gavaskar was an artist at the crease, VVS Laxman was a wizard, the stoic dependability of Rahul Dravid was the yin to Virender Sehwag’s yang, and Sachin Tendulkar was the genius on whose bat blade rested a billion dreams. But Virat Kohli is Gavaskar, Laxman, Dravid, Sehwag, and Tendulkar all rolled into one.
King Kohli has mastered all three formats of the game. He is immune to the colour of the ball, the size of the ground, and the quality of the pitch. When the match demands patience, he has more patience than a kindergarten teacher. When the tempo needs picking up, he shifts gears faster than a Bugatti Veyron. In desperate times, when the team needs to grind it out, his precise efficiency is like a soldier’s on the battlefield. As captain, his brain seems to work faster than a supercomputer while making calculations and taking risks.
Indians have more confidence in Virat Kohli than they have in themselves.
When Kohli comes out to bat, there is an air of inevitability about him. Unless he makes a mistake, the opposition will struggle to get him out, and this is usually the case. His technique seems flawless, his calling between the wickets is loud and clear, he finds gaps like he has a GPS fitted on his head, he has the fitness of a triathlete, and his temperament is rock solid. It’s not a surprise anymore when he gets a 100; in fact, it’s a surprise when he doesn’t. And that is an astonishing feat.
Kohli has reached a rare peak that only few sportsmen do, where he has become so good that it has become boring. When he bats, everything is so perfect that one can get lulled into thinking that batsmanship is easy. He makes things look so easy that one wonders, “Why doesn’t everyone bat like him?” However, nothing about his career and the tumbling records is normal. We are looking at an extraordinary sportsman at his ruthless best. He is head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, akin to Messi in football or Michael Jordan at basketball in the ’90s.
“Virat Kohli will break all records except Don Bradman’s average,” said Aussie legend Steve Waugh. On the eve of his 30th birthday, Virat has already become the fastest batsman to score 10,000 runs in ODI cricket, averaging close to a staggering 50 in all three formats of the game. He is a Titan of the modern era. While the records are out there for everyone to talk about, what numbers cannot quantify or record is the pressure of a big game, a mounting required run rate, banter on the field, and the pressure of a an entire nation full of cricket-crazed people counting on him. It is freakish how often he shows up in tense situations and gobbles up the pressure like it was breakfast.
Kohli has made excellence the norm, and the fans have come to expect nothing less. When he comes out to bat, there is relief. If India is in a good situation, he will make it better. If India is struggling, you know he will steady the ship. He is the number one Test and ODI batsman for a reason: he simply doesn’t make silly mistakes or throw his wicket away. The rare occasions where he does falter are made more memorable by this quality, like the Nile missing its annual flood or a Mumbai local arriving on time for once.
That is what makes Virat Kohli so special. Everytime he comes out to bat, he is capable of getting a hundred. The Indian cricket fan’s faith in Virat Kohli was perfectly summed up by former England captain Nasser Hussain, when he said, “I would bet my life on Kohli.”
You’re not alone Nasser, because a billion Indians do too.