A fan’s view on sports affairs : Virat Kohli : Most complete batsman with world at his feet!

Virat Kohli: Most Complete Batsman

has carried this burden on his shoulders for more than 20 years, it’s time we
carry him on our shoulders”

were the words of 22 year old Virat Kohli just after India had won their 2nd
ODI World Cup on the glorious evening of 2nd April 2011 and these
weren’t just some hollow words to attract headlines, he has actually been
walking that talk ever since. He’s literally carried Indian Cricket for last
7-8 years.

          In 2006, he was playing a domestic game against Karnataka
and his father died of stroke, he continued playing; he made 90 for his team
and then went for the funeral. His father was his biggest support. A year later
in 2007 he led India to U-19 WC win.
          Why have I particularly mentioned these two incidents?
Because I think these incidents give us the insights into the mind of a great
champion. Obviously he’s got abundance of talent, but his tremendous
self-belief, hunger to succeed, his sense of responsibility towards the game of
cricket. These are the virtues that have made him who he is today.
          The thing is my generation has been able to watch Virat
since his U-19 days and we have been privileged to see his development over the
last decade, which is nothing but phenomenal. In ODI cricket he’s always been
successful, but especially in test match cricket the way he’s transformed
himself in last 4-5 years starting with the tour down under in 2014. It’s not
like he hadn’t scored runs before, but his 100s were small. You know he hadn’t
yet got a ‘daddy’ 100.
          When India toured to England in 2014, it turned out to be a
nightmare for Virat Kohli, he managed to score 130 runs in 10 innings. Jimmy
Anderson constantly troubled him and got him out with out-swingers and people
had started talking that he was just a home track bully, which was an absolute
nonsense because he had scored runs in SA, NZ.
          The very next tour was down under, he was coming to
Australia on the back of dismal show in England, in 1st game Dhoni was
unavailable so Virat was leading the team and he got 2 hundreds in that match,
in 2nd innings he and Vijay had brilliant partnership on 5th
day and they almost took India home. India lost game in an attempt to chase
down a target on 5th day, but it started a new fearless era in
Indian cricket, it was now a Virat-way there onwards, no wonder Dhoni retired
at the end of the series. Virat Kohli ended up amassing more than 650 runs and
4 100s with best of 167, his first daddy 100!
                    His ability
to adapt his game as per format and situation is unbelievable. When he plays
test cricket he looks at bigger picture, he rarely plays lofted shots, he
prefers to keep it down the ground and keeps rotating strike and yet his strike
rate remains good. He’s scored 6 double hundreds in last 2 years. He went to
England this year and silenced all his critics in 1st game itself
with brilliant hundred and scored more than 550 runs in series.
he plays ODI and T20 cricket, he opens his limitless repertoire of shots and
bestows us with delightful strokes all around the park like he recently did
against West Indies. Another thing that makes him a great player is ability to
find gaps and placement. He is powerful cricketer, he doesn’t rely only on
timing, but while playing those muscular shots, suddenly he plays some silky
late cuts or just a gentle push that is enough to get 4 runs through covers.
He’s got all shots in the book of cricket, very rarely plays unorthodox shots
and yet maintains unreal strike rate. What amazes me is, he always seems in
control of the situation, he is absolute master when it comes to chasing big
targets, some of the things he might have learned by watching Dhoni.      
can go on and on about his batting, let’s now talk about Virat Kohli the
captain. First of all his statistics as a player didn’t deteriorate after he
became a captain, instead they flourished even more. His batting records after
he became a captain are just out of this world. For last 4 years, he’s
undoubtedly best batsman in the world across all the formats. He’s reached to
No.1 ranking in all 3 formats.
 Captaincy is not new to him. He’s captained
India since U-19 days. He’s born leader and always likes to lead from the front
aggressively. India’s records under his captaincy have been extraordinary.
India have recently registered their 10th successive home test
series win. Yet people have raised questions over Kohli the captain, why? Are
their concerns valid? Does he take all decisions or they are collective
decisions of team management? See, the problems arise when we go abroad,
because margin for errors becomes narrow and one decision can change fortunes.
In home conditions when you win so constantly mistakes get shadowed by it and
this isn’t just about captain, it’s for everyone.
          To be honest Virat Kohli the captain is still work in
progress and nothing wrong in it. He’s quick learner. Am not saying it because
some experts have said it, I have my observations to back it up. Yes there are
coaches and manager, but cricket is ultimately captain’s game, it’s not
football. One of the baffling mistakes he made when we toured England was in 2nd
test at Lord’s: conditions suitable for swing bowling and there was possibility
of rain also, yet he picked up young chinaman bolwer Kuldeep Yadav in team, he
was given only 9 overs in which he gave away 40 odd runs and then he was sent
back home after the test. Virat accepted the blame for the mistake but it not
only weakened India’s position and but also damaged confidence of a young
bowler. Mistakes can happen, but this was a no-brainer.
          Another important thing is constant chopping and changing.
That creates doubts in minds of some players. Yes they all seem to believe in
his decisions and may be this is how modern cricket works. Yet I believe Kohli
needs to take a leaf out of Saurav Ganguly’s book and he has taken a step
towards that maturity I think. Same man Kuldeep was getting hit in recent test
match vs Windies in 1st innings, but Kohli gave him extended spell
and it reaped rewards in 2nd innings when he got 5 wickets after he
grew in confidence and settled down. I believe Indian cricket is in safe and
worthy hands of Virat Kohli.
already one of the greatest the greatest batsmen of all time. 16000+ runs and
60 hundreds at age of 29 are mesmerizing numbers. Some critics might say that quality
of bowling today is not what it used to be and that’s why he’s successful. My Answer
to them is, let’s assume quality of bowling has gone down, but then it’s for
every batsman right? Then why not others are as successful as Virat? That means
he’s special and just for the record, he’s scored runs vs Dale Steyn in SA, vs Mitchell
Johnson in Australia and now vs Jimmy Anderson in England. Great players are
timeless and should be considered great across eras.
the moment Virat Kohli is unstoppable and let’s hope he remains injury free and
plays for India for many years to come. Not just so that he can break and
create new records but for happiness of billion Indians, because there is no
better delight than watching Virat Kohli bat.

Note: This is an old blog written by me on October 25, 2018  for the website ‘Beyond the posts’. 

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