Virat Kohli, it’s one thing to channelise anger but ‘gaalis’ in celebration?

Virat Kohli’s batting is an astonishing cocktail of Sunil Gavaskar’s concentration, Rahul Dravid’s work ethic and Sachin Tendulkar’s relentless hunger for excellence. However, he has occasionally crossed the line and appears abrasive and needlessly aggressive.

cricket Updated: Feb 15, 2018 09:36 IST
India vs SOuth Africa,South Africa vs India,Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team has sealed a win in the six-ODI series against South Africa.(AFP)

Words like great, master, legend, icon are thrown around carelessly to describe cricket superstars. Fans bestow such honour on their favourites but in common usage Gavaskar is Master, Kapil Dev a legend and Sachin Tendulkar officially Bharat Ratna, unofficially God of Cricket .

Where in this league of champions does Virat Kohli sit?

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Stats confirm he is as good as the best — not yet 30 but 55 international hundreds, and a 50-plus average in all formats. These numbers draw awe from fans, respect from colleagues and past players rate him equal to Viv Richards, the King of swagger who chewed bowlers up along with his gum.

Comparisons with SRT are inevitable and the narrative doing the rounds is that Virat should climb the statistical mountain virtually scaled by his senior. Four years ago when SRT retired, everyone thought he would be the sole occupant of cricket’s Everest. Now, suddenly, Virat is getting close, scoring hundred after hundred.

Unlike SRT who was destined for glory, gifted if not blessed by nature, Virat is relatively self-made, pushing mind and body to reach the top. Rahul Dravid described himself as a ‘work in progress player who ‘wanted to be the best he could.’ This applies to Virat. He is constantly battling himself and opposition bowlers to raise his game.

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Virat’s batting is an astonishing cocktail of Gavaskar’s concentration, Dravid’s work ethic and SRT’s relentless hunger for excellence. He moves across formats with ease and the South Africa series confirms he is twice as good as the next best Indian player.

Hugely efficient, but not the most elegant or stylish, Virat is not an artist with the bat, more a craftsman who uses his skill to produce phenomenal results.

Others before him were defined by their signature shots: SMG — drive past the bowler, SRT — punched drive past the bowler, Dravid — crisp square cut and pull, Dhoni — helicopter to the leg side.

What stays with you from Virat’s batting is the bottom-handed flick to balls fetched from outside off to mid-wicket. Laxman played this shot with finesse, Virat’s flick is more masculine and powerful. Like a contemptuous slap born of amazing hand-eye coordination. Virat’s batsmanship might not be pretty, but the beauty of its final product is spectacular.

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Kohli’s batting is marked by strategic match awareness. The ‘chase master’ knows when to cruise, when to shift gears, when to put foot on the pedal. He is called Cheeku by his friends, intensity is his middle name, and what drives him is ambition and a rage to improve. The fire in his belly (and mouth) makes Virat a fitter athlete and a better batsman.

In doing so, he has occasionally crossed the line and appears abrasive and needlessly aggressive. It is one thing to channelise inner anger for positive results but gaalis in celebration?

Virat may be a great ambassador for a resurgent team, an intelligent, articulate and inspirational leader. But you want an India captain to be more composed and less edgy. Maybe a quiet chat with MSD, master of cool, would work!

(The author is a sports administrator and former BCCI media manager. Views are his personal)

First Published: Feb 15, 2018 09:31 IST