Dear Virat Kohli,
As I pen this letter with the heaviest of hearts, this won’t be about numbers, this won’t be about the trophies you won and this definitely won’t be about the centuries you missed. This will be about a subject who is shattered to lose his king, a firebrand whose icon’s idol was scorched, a follower whose God was devastated. This will be about heartbreak.
You must have heard Bon Jovi singing that “this ain’t a song for the broken hearted” and I always wanted to sing those lines out loud to myself. However, no more, no more. A cricketing icon put an end to his leadership after his own nation left no stones unturned to villainize him when he brought his country so close to history and yet remained so far.
Virat, I don’t care what the fans of the nation have to tell you. I couldn’t care less for what Gautam Gambhir had to tell you. Do you know what I care about? I care about the ruthless aggression that you brought forth for the nation.
The last time an Indian captain had the audacity to pull off this stunt was my idol, Sourav Ganguly. The world painted him in the most vibrant colours of blasphemy. Yet, he continued the alleged blasphemy because he had the job of carrying a nation on his shoulders.
Virat, when Jimmy Anderson charged at Bumrah, you were all stoked up in the stands to tear down at Jimmy if need be. When Johnson wanted to get under your skin, you kissed him a farewell, that he would never forget.
You shut Faulkner up with such resilience that the fast bowler lost all the limelight that surrounded him back then. It is shocking to see how the fans of the country wanted you out because India failed to topple an emaciated South Africa from the perch.
I wish they could have realized the gut it needed to shatter down the Proteas in their backyard. It is easy to throw words from the other half. When India lost the series, there were so many cricketing analysts across the face of the entire globe that even the entire world’s analysts would have been put to shame.
When you dared to speak up against Dean Elgar, the world was surprisingly divided into factions trying to uphold the spirit of sport, citing that you have got away with your wrongs for too long.
Wrongs? Did cricket really soften up so much that pointing out people’s flaws in the arcade has now turned into blasphemy? Guess what, that’s not the end of it, Virat. To add a pint of hypocrisy to all these cricket-spirit supporters, they are the same ones who hailed Ponting’s Australia as the toughest opponents to beat because they always come at you with “a war of words” and not blasphemy.
Virat, whatever you did, believe me, that is nothing short of a marvel. Sourav established India on the world map, Dhoni showed the world what kind of a menace India is when it comes to the shorter formats of the game and you, yes Virat you, you upheld India in her brightest livery across the face of the planet in the longest format of the game with countless scythes all set to rip you apart in shreds at the slightest opportunity.
And yet, you stayed. You showed India that Australia isn’t invincible. You conquered Australia Down Under and gave England a nightmare that they won’t ever forget.
The patience that you showed on day 1 of the WTC final, probably without that, India would have been humiliated in the grand showpiece event. Maybe, the world will be happy with batter Kohli, the man who ruthlessly dominated the bowlers and cared for absolutely nothing else.
However, this captaincy was a two-way process for you. It didn’t just bring out the best in you. You also shaped the nation’s captaincy into a position that would not be easy to occupy.
There is a famous maxim by the Bard that states, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”, and somehow, you remained a symbol of aggression with the crown on your head and a youth in the heart with the famished eyes of passion. You always wanted more for the nation. You always wanted India to be at the peak.
Was this journey the most memorable one? Maybe not. Was this journey flawless? Absolutely impossible. But this journey happened. You set on a ride clouded by uncertainty in the midst of hostile pastures. From there, you built an empire.
You slashed through those bouts of extreme hatred for you like a boss. You zipped those haters up with extreme prejudice and you found salvation in the nation’s emergence as a Test cricketing stalwart.
Maybe people will always paint Rohit Sharma as the hero who helped India to reach the WTC final but you took up the role of the unsung warrior with the songs being sung in the most explicit renditions of war cries.
King, thank you for everything. Thank you for all the heart that you have shown. Thank you for taking India to the top. Thank you for the maces. Thank you for being there. A new journey looms on the horizon. May the run-machine return again.
A crazy cricket fan of yours