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When the immortals are embraced by mortality.

by Gaurav Sethi

When the coping skills of Kohli and Indian cricket were severely tested. 

Many years back, when Virat Kohli was no less than a cricketing immortal, and India captain, across all three formats, he used to sidestep, almost ironically, and dwell on life and form, how it could all go away, that it wasn’t for keeps. 

Even as Virat’s hand held the mike he spoke these words into, he had traversed into the future, into his mortal form. 

It was weird. Here we were in a cricket post-match, listening to a man at the peak of his powers, and he was delving into a time and place, where he was at basecamp. Probably looking away at the peak and the climb, and saying he was done, thank you, so long and thank you for the fish. 

It’s another thing, Virat stopped eating fish a long time ago, but he never did stop fishing outside that dreaded off stump. That corridor of uncertainty, that labyrinth of loss, that pull of desire that doomed many a batsman on the wane. 

As he strutted between cricketing immortality and mortality, often in a single innings, those cover drives, pulled many a believer back into the throes of his romance, only to be duped, when he was felled outside off. Again. And sometimes not even that. 

In a series where many other wickets fell, his was inevitably, the one that roped in emotions of promise, romance, a life unfulfilled, culled in its prime. 

In Virat’s wicket, both the believers and those that don’t, saw a betrayal. Perhaps we all did, and continue to. As we engulfed in the almost satirical drama of a present day Virat innings, nothing he accomplishes can satiate us. 

Nothing. Till he smears us with that 71st ton. 

And if and when he does, we will watch in longing. In dreaded longing. In almost an acceptance of doom. Of the times we live in, where the one silver lining, is that Virat innings. 

And if not that Virat innings, that unadulterated Virat emotion. 

But then, much like that erstwhile Virat innings, the emotion too has been castrated. As also, castigated. 

Virat is now that character, in that Virat speech, which even he probably, at his highest high didn’t see himself as. 
And as Virat went slip, sliding away, those that could, threw in a few banana peels. To make that slide even more dramatic. Amongst them, Virat too, unknowingly or otherwise, threw a peel too. 

He aided his fall, just as he grasped his own rise and spurred it. 

Virat, always dramatic. If you get his drama, you probably get him somewhat. A drama that appeared even bigger than the stage he stood on. 


The soft dismissals. Virat Kohli sweeping, holding out to short-midwicket, really? Virat Kohli scooping one to short-cover? Virat Kohli out for a golden duck. Another Virat Kohli fifty. Another Virat Kohli innings unfulfilled. Another innings, where we the viewers were unfulfilled. 

While the dismissals appeared soft on television, is it so? What makes a dismissal soft, appearance? What makes it unlucky? Do these tags serve as a discredit to both the bowler and the batsman? 

Yet in Virat’s case, these tags, considered the overall construct and approach of his innings, over the years. How he rarely played in the air, early on. How he eliminated risk to such an extent, most of his one-day centuries could’ve been set to a maestro’s soundtrack – with a slow and steady buildup, those singles, twos, the steady running between the wickets, leading to the occasional tweak, a boundary, only to settle into the reassurance of the humdrum, catapulting into a frenzied buildup, of a sustained explosion of the orchestra, his brutal boundary hitting, once he had secured the piece. The piece was the chase. 

The reassurance was both a mathematical and cricketing masterclass of running hard between wickets like few modern day greats could, or had the patience for. 

Beyond cricket, Virat Kohli was playing patience, and he was better than most at it. 

Yet over the years, this game of patience has been something largely credited to his predecessor. 

Had it not been for his mastery of patience, India would have won a fraction of its white ball games. 

Before Rohit Sharma started to boss all formats, it was largely Kohli’s prerogative. 


Virat Kohli has gone away. Incognito. 

“Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone” 

The judgement on Virat, what he should do, where he’s gone wrong, how he can make amends, as a cricketer, as an individual, as a celebrity, his obligation to us, to society. It doesn’t stop. Virat doesn’t owe us or society anything. What his thoughts and deeds are, his political leanings, are his. But they will continue to be put under the microscope. The idea of Virat sells like little else in India. 

His altered state, lack of runs may not always be palatable but then what state of his, ever was? Virat was rarely meant to be palatable. 

That he decided to give it to the BCCI masters like some unruly Aussie crowd is another thing. Cricket administration in India has mostly worked in the shadows. Unspoken, political, Machiavellian, platitudes. 

For years, in its various tussles with reorganization, the Board was deemed weak. It was when Virat Kohli ruled India’s cricketing realms. That reign only added to Virat’s aura of immortality. It made him forget an old adage in Indian cricket. Something that Virender Sehwag supposedly said to Shoaib Akhtar: “Baap baap hota hai, beta beta”* 

The sooner both the Board and Virat accept they’re playing in the same team, the better it will be for Indian cricket. The only loser here is the sport. 

Let’s see who’s the bigger man, amongst these titans. Forgive and forget could be the way to go. And may already have happened. 

 *Who’s your Daddy?

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