In approach to home season, Kohli’s desire for greatness faces test of fairness
Will he follow the strategy that was executed against the South Africans so that winning, regardless of the means, becomes the sole purpose of a contest? Or will the strategy be to prepare a bit more supporting tracks, that may not negate any home advantage, but be fairer for an even fight?columns Updated: Sep 19, 2016 16:09 IST
Virat Kohli, like any young man with an abundance of talent, a burning desire to succeed and sights set very high, is a work in progress. His phenomenal appetite for runs across all three formats, strong roots in the basics of the game and a rigorous work ethic, have already made him one of the greats of the game.
Comparisons with even Sachin Tendulkar are being made, with some suggesting he is set to achieve even more, if that is statistically possible.
A few years back, Kohli was a brash, in-your-face, intemperate youth, who let go of invectives, responded to any kind of challenge with an intemperate aggression as if molten lava was about to explode. His fans and admirers feared that his boundless energy was being channelled in the wrong direction and worried for his future.
It speaks of his maturity and an ability to self-introspect that Kohli today is a picture of restraint, absorbing the responsibilities of leading a side, as if he was born into the job. When wisdom melds with intuition, they say a genius is born, and Kohli is at that stage of his career where he may be just one step away from reaching that stage.
As he begins his home odyssey, where India play 13 Tests, success may be guaranteed. Home advantage is what the cricketing world is thriving upon and it is becoming increasingly difficult for any team to win away from home. India, with its dust bowls and bowlers who turn into spinning wizards on wickets where the ball turns square, has always been a difficult team to beat at home. The Ajit Wadekar-Azharuddin duo gave a more menacing meaning to this home advantage in the nineties and the Ravi Shastri-Kohli duo honed this concept to even sharper level against the South Africans last year.
On literally unplayable tracks against quality spin, the South Africans lost their feet and minds, as the turning ball and uneven bounce wore down their batting skills.
Kohli, who takes pride in his superior ability and exudes self-confidence as if it is the most natural thing to have, now has Anil Kumble, instead of Shastri, to guide him in the dressing room.
Will he follow the strategy that was executed against the South Africans so that winning, regardless of the means, becomes the sole purpose of a contest? Or will the strategy be to prepare a bit more supporting tracks, that may not negate any home advantage, but be fairer for an even fight?
There is no denying that strategies and tracks are designed keeping the strengths and weaknesses of the rivals in mind, but will Kohli like to win in conditions overwhelmingly designed in his team’s favour?
Kumble, the master of exploiting Indian tracks, had suggested before he embarked on the West Indies tour, that to become world-beaters in all conditions, they may not tamper too much with home wickets.
Whether that policy will be implemented or not we will get to see as the days unfold, though no one is suggesting that India make seamer-friendly tracks.
Anyone burning with the desire to achieve greatness will be consumed by winning, and Kohli should be no exception. But if he is seeking immortality, he should remember one lesson of history. It puts ahead of the rest those who play fair, look far ahead and not let fear of defeat make them lose faith in the world they believe they are destined to conquer.