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Virat Kohli, the dictionary meaning of perfection

In an age of brute force and violent strokes, Kohli is a touch player who generates power from his powerful wrists and that perfect timing of the bat hitting the ball that defies explanation.

columns Updated: May 11, 2016 16:46 IST
If one studies Kohli’s career of late, especially in the One-dayers and T20 where he is averaging 58.6, it is as Bradmanesque as it gets. To put this in perspective, no other batsman averages even 40 in T20s.
If one studies Kohli’s career of late, especially in the One-dayers and T20 where he is averaging 58.6, it is as Bradmanesque as it gets. To put this in perspective, no other batsman averages even 40 in T20s.(Hindustan Times)

Of late his contours have acquired a hard, firm look. The face no longer appears vulnerable and his reactions to criticism are more mature and not given to an aggression that reflects an insecure mindset. The dreamy eyes adorning a chiselled face in a person, whose ruthless pursuit of runs matches the unquenchable thirst of a man wandering in a desert, are perhaps the only sign that he is still human.

This is not the sketch of a superman living in a fantasy world, but of a real person who is redefining not just the craft of batting but the very meaning of consistency, in a format the very best fail in more than half the time they go out to bat.

Virat Kohli is no Donald Bradman, who never failed. He is not even Sachin Tendulkar, who played for an eternity and in most minds has still not retired. He lacks the aura and intimidating presence of a Viv Richards or the silky elegance of a Brian Lara. Of his peers, he would readily concede that he can’t match AB de Villiers’ ability to strike the ball in an arc of 360 degrees with strokes of audacious innovation that defy the very grammar of the sport.

Yet, Kohli is the man the world is admiring more than any other living batsman and even wondering if the modern day sport is watching a marvel whose run-making quest is more robotic than human. Robotic is not being used here in a negative sense, for Kohli’s batting is not mechanical. Far from it. He is no slave to technique, no batsman in the present T20 age can be, though no one will dispute that he is the most technically correct batsman of the present times.

In an age of brute force and violent strokes, Kohli is a touch player who generates power from his powerful wrists and that perfect timing of the bat hitting the ball that defies explanation.

A lot has been written about his strokeful ways and overcoming of glaring shortcomings that threatened his early career. For instance, he was so vulnerable to short bowling, that many feared he wouldn’t survive long. Today, not only is he among the best in tackling the short stuff, he is among the better exponents of the pull short. His struggle against the moving ball in England is one blot he has to erase and that should happen once he returns to that country again. What makes everyone believe that he would make the world forget those embarrassing failures is the manner in which he has been mastering all sorts of bowlers and difficult conditions wherever he has gone to play after that.

What has prompted this eulogy is not his skills as a batsman but the consistency with which he is scoring runs in the shorter version of the game, where failure and pressure do not seem to exist in his vocabulary anymore. What in the last couple of years has been amazing and even unbelievable is that though the best batsmen undergo a spell of failure, especially after an intensely fought series which mentally and physically can be draining, Kohli is carrying on, his appetite for big scores getting larger and larger.

Going by his IPL form, Kohli does not seem to be human anymore. He is immune to concentration lapses, distractions and the need to relax so that one does not get jaded and listless, justified reasons of failures in most sportsmen.

If one studies Kohli’s career of late, especially in the One-dayers and T20 where he is averaging 58.6, it is as Bradmanesque as it gets. To put this in perspective, no other batsman averages even 40 in T20s.

The law of averages should suggest that Kohli will encounter failures once again and probably to every player’s relief make the world realise he is human after all. Till that happens, let us celebrate a phase that echoes the dictionary meaning of perfection.