Virat Kohli’s coach takes fresh guard in Malta
It may be a while before Nowell Khosla shows some of Virat Kohli’s on-field aggression and plays those cover-drives but from Friday, he will share the coach who moulded the India skipper at the West Delhi Cricket Academy: Rajkumar Sharma.
Khosla is Kohli’s equivalent with the national team of Malta, famous for the blue waters of the Mediterranean, idyllic beaches and as a diving hotspot. As Malta coach, this would be a different kind of deep-dive for Sharma as he gets them ready for a tri-nation T20 tournament in Murcia, Spain, with the hosts and Estonia beginning on Friday.
“They are an upcoming team and they are very keen to play in ICC (International Cricket Council). They don’t get much money from ICC and their cricket board has very little. I just wanted to help them,” said Sharma over phone from Rome en route to Malta.
Like in many such countries where the International Cricket Council (ICC) is trying to spread the game, it is the south Asian diaspora that keeps reverse swing and reverse sweep relevant. Khosla isn’t the only Indian in the team and that should help him settle in quickly after taking guard.
Once that is done, Sharma said he would like to get down to the task of working at the grassroots. The man who has coached junior Delhi teams is doing his first international assignment gratis but there would be a lot more of the sight-screen than sight-seeing.
“Usually what happens with these countries is that some players get together and play at amateur level. They just want to play for fun. But I would like to work at the grassroots level — if they allow me to do so — because that is the only way you can improve and have a steady stream of cricketers for future,” said Sharma.
That could be quite a task for a country of 5 lakh people. In all but two of 16 Olympics they have taken part, their contingent did not even have the numbers needed to field a cricket team. The last time they fielded a 10-member team was when Milkha Singh almost won a medal for India, in 1960.
But then, doesn’t faith move mountains? Or, in this case, Malta? Like India, they have strong British connection having been ruled by them for 160 years. Like India, they drive on the left of the road. A Kohli he has already unearthed; if Sharma looks hard enough, he may find a Manjrekar, Merchant or Mohinder in Malta.