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Why it’s a good thing that Virat Kohli doesn’t always act his age.

by Gaurav Sethi

After going past Ricky Ponting with his 31st ODI century, Virat Kohli has now gone past Virat Kohli with his 32nd ODI century. Boring. Soon, Virat Kohli will go past his 32nd. And 33rd. And so on. And then one day, sooner rather than later, he will go past Sachin Tendulkar’s 49 ODI tons. And pretty soon after that, he will go past his 50th ODI ton. There will be fresh comparisons between Virat and Sachin, tables will be made, stats will be hurled in them, and these tables will all but turn on Sachin.

Sachin meanwhile, will congratulate Virat on twitter. Virat will thank Sachin for inspiring him. It’ll play out like just another Virat Kohli German-engineered, Swiss-timed, Japanese-well-behaved chase.

Thank god for the cheap Chinese in Virat Kohli when he’s just one of the guys on the field. Not batting but baiting. Not answering questions but hurling expletives. Thank god for Virat Kohli of the human league. Virat Kohli of the league of ordinary not so gentlemen. Virat Kohli of Delhi, good old West Delhi, not so old West Delhi Cricket Academy.

Never boring.

Virat Kohli’s twin centuries in a three match series against New Zealand. A far more competitive one than those that preceded it in a long, winding, pointless home-season. But Virat Kohli refuses to get bored. He’s not picking the oppositions. Even the oppositions aren’t picking India. The BCCI seems to be picking them.

It’s easy to lose focus with fun, skill and ambition bursting within you. Ask Virender Sehwag. More so in the 50 over format. That someone can stay focussed match after match, in such a repetitive format, almost like a formula mix Bollywood lazy, is some achievement. To do it this often, when you consider India’s enormous workload, takes the mouth-shoulder coordination that said the team should carry Tendulkar after the 2011 World Cup win.

Only natural then that Virat’s mouth-situation coordination goes a little awry when he’s on the field without bat in hand. He’s full time cheerleader, death over boundary rider, and by all evidence, hands the ropes to MS Dhoni.

In a way, this is Virat’s switch off time where he can become not just one of the boys but the most boisterous of them. Where he can play the crowd like a noisy orchestra, chase balls like a demon fielder, hurl back those balls like a javelin thrower. Hurl back abuses.

Often the most expressive guy in the Indian dugout is its captain. He can be easily mistaken as an enthusiastic youngster on the cusp of his India debut, where Aamir Khan-like earnestness will earn brownie points with the team management.

It’s another thing, he is the team management. And by being the way he is, he allows his team to let go too – if and when they feel like. There might be accountability but by no means is it a stifled classroom atmosphere, at least that’s the impression one gets.

When the backbencher is the brightest kid in class, things are bound to be different. When his partner in crime is a backbencher with all those pick-up lines, the chemistry between the two is bound to be good.

Anil Kumble’s sidelining may have bordered on the distasteful but then, Virat didn’t have his bat in hand. It’s episodes such as these that reaffirm that he can be quite ordinary too. As Shastri himself might have put it then, “Something’s gotta give”.

In a few days, Virat Kohli will turn 29. In a way, it’s a good thing he doesn’t always act his age. Who knows, maybe it’s Virat’s often manic energy when he’s happy to let go, to let it rip, that makes the almost frightful balance in the middle possible.

The Yin and Yang of Virat’s cricket, that helps him tread the fine line between hanging in and going Bang! Bang!

There isn’t much of an argument against the fastest man to 9000 ODI runs. And thank god he’s just a man.

First published here

1 comment:

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