Honestly, I would first like to apologize for my initial cynicism about you. You proved your point in Australia already and yet I thought that the circumstances were different this time. You were in to fill a couple of massive boots as Shami was absent. He was one of the shiniest glimmers of hopes for India so far in the series. I genuinely didn’t think that we can count more on you for your batting.
Things change, situations change and here I am, saying a massive SORRY to you. I was so wrong. I guess a lot of people were wrong. Who would have thought that the James Anderson, the Ollie Robinson and the Craig Overton who brought the Indian batting line-up to its knees, would have been hammered by a number seven batsman and that too in such fierce manner?
I still remember I used to cherish Virender Sehwag taking the aerial route to achieve his centuries frequently, may it be a 50 or a 100, and he had zero regards for caution. I love the fact how Rohit Sharma still keeps the tradition alive in bits and pieces.
I am glad that we have a new reviver in you, of this rare form of art in cricket. Back in Brisbane, it was Nathan Lyon who was whacked to the stands over long-on to impart your half-century, in the first innings, it was Ollie Robinson who was pulled for a six to help you reach the magical figures while in the second innings the six came one run prematurely as you consigned Robinson to the ropes over long-on.
I am pretty sure, Sehwag will be taking notice of this new avatar of his, making merry against a formidable force of bowlers who brought down dynasties in a flash. There is another wonderful aspect of yours that is probably overlooked in all the glitz and glam that surrounds you now. It is the fact that you are a big match player and your performance enhances significantly under pressure.
In Australia, India was nearing a collapse and it felt that the first innings would go to waste when you and Sundar played that crucial partnership. The situations were familiar at the Oval and you came up trumps in both the innings with impeccable knocks against the finest.
I guess you have made it a habit to come out like a bubble of rebellion when others fail. That is one aspect that has proved to be extremely crucial in modern-day cricket. Gone are the days when reliability was pinned on a handful with limited job roles. It is now about utility and impact and you have painted both of them in the most dazzling colours.
Since we mentioned impact, I guess, I must elaborate a bit. Kohli focused on the aspect of impact in an interview at the start of the year. It is no longer about year-long performances but how one can impact according to a certain situation. Given the broader pool of talent that India has now, it has provided the opportunity to the selectors to find impact players according to the conditions.
You were picked for a handful of occasions and the effect that you created was way too overwhelming to be ignored. The latest impact was the dismissal of Joe Root twice in a Test match, a batsman that has established himself as a spectre in the Indian hearts.
The scenes were familiar in Brisbane where you claimed the prized scalps of Steven Smith and a set Tim Paine in the first innings while your second innings exploits contained Marcus Harris, Cameron Green, Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon. You have a knack for hurting the batters who have proved to be crucial against India.
It feels as if you have formed a telekinetic connection with these batters and somehow you manage to force them in committing errors. That is the fun part of the story. The reality lies in the fact that you exploit their weakness and bring them down. You stick them in the line and spot that bothers them the most and the error follows.
Believe me, I have rarely seen a utility cricketer like you. I do not want to tag you like bowling or a batting all-rounder. You are made for much greater stuff that doesn’t need penning right now.
We have seen younger talents wilt to pressure in the most unfortunate ways. Right now what stays relevant and important is that you squeeze your heart out and leave the rest to us, storytellers to stitch together a garland of emotions to create an astronomical homage to you.
A crazy cricket fan