India vs Australia: Virat Kohli’s India – Emotional, passionate, flawed
India vs Australia: He scored 692 runs in his last Test series in Australia, all the while flexing his biceps, blowing kisses, taking a knock or two on the head and indulging in fiery talk in the middle of the pitch.
The bat is on the table, the background is pitch dark, Virat Kohli is seated, he looks towards the skies, dressed in all white. It is a striking picture, kudos to the photographer for getting the lighting right, but for cricket fans, this could well be the defining picture of the season.
It is impossible to miss the attention being showered on the captain. A rookie from 2011, when he spoke at length on how the world was against him, when everything he did was being scorned at, to a proud captain of a promising yet faltering team, Kohli’s life in many ways has come full circle.
Every Australian, not just the cricketers and pundits, have their theories on keeping him quiet, it can be unnerving for few, for Kohli it is like the morning meal, like the diet of oats he has embraced to function like a machine.
He never shies way from the camera, has a huge presence on social media, is all over the internet endorsing different brands, but the stakes are different - scratch that, the stakes are much higher this time, and he knows it. He wants to be perfect while practising, wants his team and management to not live in a bubble but to accept mistakes and iron them out. He knows that they have a chance to do something special this time, but his team needs to stride out together.
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Much like the image, the previous tours proved to be bleak, dark and weary, and much like the image, Kohli has to hold his team and aim for that higher spot. It is all so poetic, all so fragmented, but hey, isn’t this the beauty of Test cricket.
He does not want to pick up fights, but he will stand up for himself and his team if the opposition decides to rile them up. For him, self-respect matters, for him aesthetics while making a point not quite. So, he will scream, he will shout, he will scrap and he will be unapologetic if his team benefits - for that is the man. Emotional, passionate and driven. Make what you can of it, but he knows, this can be Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team’s summer.
So when he walks out to bat in the first Test at Adelaide, the Australian team will be prepared with their plans, perhaps with a few words.
“Virat can be rattled too, he should not be allowed to be a bully,” said Ricky Ponting and amidst all the ‘elite honesty’ shenanigans, things could get murky. Will it impact Kohli? Oh yes, it will, Dean Jones says it might fire him up, Kim Hughes says he might get emotional, previous numbers scream it will make him a monster, especially at the Adelaide Oval.
He scored 692 runs in his last Test series in Australia, all the while flexing his biceps, blowing kisses, taking a knock or two on the head and indulging in fiery talk in the middle of the pitch. Perhaps, the tonality of the Aussies might not be as high-pitched, but when the pressure is amped, when the sun is blazing down and when the Australian public creates the ‘ambience’, things could get heated up. Pressure, patience, perseverance - all words of significance, all words for the way Kohli responds.
And if one believes his batting is sorted, one has to factor in his captaincy. Changes to the teams have been made almost in a heartbeat, questions have been asked, but Kohli has never shied away from answers. The results have gone awry, but there is the feeling of honesty in each of his moves. He wants to be pragmatic and has a burning desire to win - he makes decisions purely because he wants to win and not die wondering.
For he expends energy every minute he is on the field, while he is batting, while he is fielding, while he is at the non-striker’s end. He lives the game, breathes it each day and never gives a long sigh. Kohli, after the reversals in South Africa and England, looks to be in control. He knows his team is good enough and perhaps, this is what irks him often.
“We definitely are not thinking that this is the last opportunity for us to win in Australia and that we might not come here again. I don’t think that’s the right kind of mindset to have. Whatever series we play, our aim is to win that series. We don’t want to be a team that wins one-odd Test match here and there [in an away series],” he said before the tour began.
Kohli is a relaxed man, he is bubbling under that neatly-trimmed beard, but he is like the white-clad man looking towards the terrace, in his own bubble, not too flustered by the darkness which is in the background.
This is Virat Kohli’s India, and this is Virat Kohli - premier batsman, an ambitious captain. This is Kohli, and well as they say, the stage is set!
It becomes impossible to start an Australian Test summer without thinking about the great Richie Benaud.
“The problem with relying on nostalgia for commentary is that people only remember the good things,” Richie Benaud said.
Replace commentary with anything at all in life and it remains pertinent. Not for nothing, is Test cricket an extrapolation of life. Let the action begin!