'People who say Kohli's form doesn't matter as India didn't win the World Cup...': Lara's point-blank message to critics
Brian Lara is not pleased with those dismissing Virat Kohli's World Cup performance due to India's loss, delivering a stern message to doubters.
Brian Lara is not pleased with some of the criticism that has surrounded Virat Kohli in the wake of India's defeat to Australia in the World Cup final and in a hard-hitting message, has come up with a stern message for the doubters. Lara is upset with a particular section of the public that has labelled Kohli's form at the World Cup inconsequential since India could not go the distance.
Kohli was the leading scorer at the World Cup, amassing a record tally of 765 runs at an average of 95.62 including three centuries – including a record-breaking 50th ODI ton. During India's staggering run up to the final, Kohli also conjured three half-centuries, making it the most jaw-dropping individual performance of all time by a batter. He surpassed Sachin Tendulkar's 20-year-old milestone of 673 runs at the 2003 World Cup, and capped off an almost perfect World Cup campaign. But despite Kohli's genius, India could only come tantalisingly close to lifting the cup, losing the summit clash to Australia by six wickets.
Lara urged critics to pay focus on the bigger picture, which is Kohli's legacy, how even at 35, he continues to inspire an entire generation and racks up records for fun.
"This (ODI) World Cup was a joy to watch. First of all, for Virat Kohli... I know a lot of people will say or have already said that it (Kohli’s performance) does not matter as India did not win the World Cup," Lara said during his speech at The Bhawanipur Education Society College, presenting the Tiger Pataudi Memorial Lecture – an initiative by The Bengal Club and The Telegraph.
"Team sport is about winning and you, as an individual player, have to have that as your No.1 target. But a subsidiary of team success is individual success, and that is what Kohli has given India match after match throughout the World Cup. Now, that did not impress me because the man is capable of much more. (But) what impresses me most about Kohli is his true legacy... For, he has changed the face of cricket and how you prepare for the game. The discipline that he has stands out, always."
Growing in during his formative years, Kohli witnessed two batting legends spread their magic in the 1990s and early 2000s – Lara and Sachin Tendulkar. It's been over a decade since these two batting behemoths retired, and yet the 'Tendulkar vs Lara' debate doesn't die down. Lara pointed out in jest that while he would have loved to see Kohli idolise him, that Virat opted Tendulkar as his role model worked out pretty well in the end.
"Being the superstar that he is and the legacy that I feel he can leave, Kohli woke up one day, turned on the television and there was a left-hander on the screen facing the English bowling (referring to himself). But as in India, there are 100-odd channels and he came across a right-hander masterly putting together an innings. And Kohli looked to the mirror and said, 'Left-hand batting isn't for me. See that man on the screen there. That is the footsteps I look to follow in.' Who's that man? Sachin Tendulkar," added the former West Indies captain.
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