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"Virat will take-off more than his shirt at Lord’s"

by Gaurav Sethi

How Ganguly wants Kohli to outperform him

Sourav Ganguly’s admiration for Virat Kohli is no secret; often he has seen a glimpse, and now a flash of himself in the Delhi boy’s ways. Becoming the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) President may have initially toned down Dada a tad, but he’s back to his booming best again.

Harking back to the famous NatWest victory celebrations on the Lord’s balcony in July, 2002, an emotional Ganguly said, “That was nothing, I don’t know what made me stop at the shirt. I was so excited that day, could have taken off so much more. But Rajeev Shukla was standing alongside and I was feeling kind of awkward – had it been just me and the boys on the balcony, I kid you not, it would have been the full monty."
It appeared Ganguly had had one apple juice too many, but he wasn’t prepared to stop there – “let me say this now, and you can quote me when the time comes, I have high hopes for Virat Kohli and want him to do better than me as a skipper. In fact, I will go so far as to say, I believe he will take-off more than his shirt at Lord’s. That will show James Anderson not to mess with him. For me, the time has come for our coaches to be more demonstrative especially after that damp squib Duncan Fletcher. I believe, Ravi Shastri will lead the way – I can see him taking something off in the Sky Sports’ commentary box after another famous Indian win. That will show jealous Englishmen like Nasser Hussain and Ian Botham to keep their mouths shut before calling our fielders donkeys or raising questions about the IPL”

Ganguly was in a pensive mood while reflecting on Dhoni’s celebrations – “I don’t know why he restricts himself to just uprooting a stump – and that also he couldn’t do recently because the stumps were way too expensive to be removed. It would be better if he was more expressive – no organiser can stop you from taking off your clothes and isn’t that how the best footballers in the world celebrate goals, by taking their shirts off? Still, I don’t see Dhoni taking off more than just his cap, and that too reluctantly. He is after all his own man”

It seemed as if the banter had ended there but Ganguly wasn’t quite finished.  He continued undeterred, “Even Rohit Sharma should express his talent better, he may know how to play, but his celebrations are sadly lacking. When he gets out he pouts, when he scores a hundred he pouts, who does he think he is, Angelina Jolie?” Ganguly was visibly upset by now but saw hope in Shikhar Dhawan – “Not only is he a very attractive left handed batsman as all left handers are but he has a signature celebration. He has a full smile but I don’t know why he is hiding all those tattoos under his shirt – also he’s from Delhi and Virat should have a frank chat with him about being more expressive with his celebrations. The Champions Trophy win in England would’ve been a perfect launch pad for him to show off his tattoos and yes it would’ve shown the west that  we are the masters of tattoos – do they know that we’ve had tattoos for thousands of years? In the villages, wasn’t that how names and initials were recorded, with tattoos? Shikhar has a job to do here.”

Ganguly felt that a player like Rahane will never remove his shirt – “It’s akin to Rahul Dravid removing his shirt, do you see that happening? I don’t. Nor for that matter Cheteshwar Pujara. They are shy middle class boys who are earnest students of the game like Dravid. But under Virat and with Shastri’s guidance, you never know what happens. Things could get hot under the collar and that’s when the collar has to come off”

Going through the Indian team, Ganguly noted that while he didn’t see Ashwin undressing during celebrations, he still felt Harbhajan Singh had it in him – “he has nothing to lose or nothing to prove to anyone anymore – if Bhajji gets a few wickets and leads India to a famous win, who knows, he may strip or even slap someone again, and if it’s done in jest, I’d welcome it. Oh, and have you noticed how Raina goes about spanking everyone’s...”

(However plausible this might sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)

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