If Virat Kohli was distraught about not being picked in the Indian team for the Twenty20 World Cup, he’s not showing it. He’s only 21, but the Delhi top-order batsman has already gone through plenty in his life in cricket. When he emerged, there was a cockiness to his demeanour, a swagger to the walk and an ‘I’m-so-cool’ air to him. Two years down the road, he’s dropped all of that, at least off the field, and concentrating on getting the job done on it.
“During the first IPL, I was probably a spoilt kid,” admits Kohli. “Now, I realise the importance of coming back into the Indian team, having got a chance, done well and then being left out. I have matured in the last two years, but there’s still a long way to go.”
What has put so many people off Kohli is the outward appearance - the spiked hair, the colourful tattoos, the loud sunglasses - but more and more, Kohli is talking about cricket, thinking about cricket, and this is showing.
“When you are so passionate about what you are doing, if you mature in that field then you tend to get mature otherwise in life as well,” Kohli explains. “Cricket is everything I have and since I started thinking in a mature manner about cricket, that has affected my life as well.”
The IPl may offer many distractions to young cricketers, but it has its benefits for those who choose wisely and Kohli has clearly benefitted from spending time with the likes of Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid.
What’s striking about Kohli’s omission from the Indian T20 team is the manner in which he has performed, whenever given a chance in the ODIs.
“If you want big scores from a player, you have to trust him with a spot up the order for a few matches. You can’t judge from one or two matches,” says Kohli. “If I had batted up the order in this IPL, I would have probably scored more runs than what I have right now.” What he leaves unsaid, is that this might subsequently have resulted in a place in the Indian team.
A younger Kohli may not have had the wisdom to stop there.
Quite often, in cricket, what you don’t say speaks much more than what you do.
Kohli finally seems to have learned the wisdom of letting his bat do the talking. All that’s left is for the right people to listen.