Virat Kohli: India’s Very Own Maximus Decimus Meridius: Today, I will take you all on a journey back in time. No need to fasten your seatbelts for our imaginations are always bubbling. It wouldn’t hurtle you down from your seats. The year was 2004. India was battling the mighty Australians in a series that would eventually end up tied at 1-1, yet penning an essay of an Indian uprising away from home in the hostile pastures of Australia.
It was the fourth Test of the series and despite Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman being the forebearers of Indian excellence Down Under in that particular fray, there was one man who failed miserably until then. And it was none other than the cricketing God, Sachin Tendulkar.
In most of the occasions, he chose to nick at a ball that would drift away from him in the corridor of uncertainty on the off-stump. There was countless flak that would engulf him before that magical knock in the first innings of Sydney. He stitched an incredible 241 that starred not even one single cover drive, which was one of Sachin’s signature strokes. Everyone lauded the patience and the obstinacy of Tendulkar to not commit in the area that has been his bane in the entire series.
Fast forward the clock to the present day and India is duking it out with the mighty Proteas in the land of the lions. After an intense series so far, we are standing on the fringes of history as India is eyeing a series win against the South Africans in the latter’s backyard that is an unprecedented feat in the antiquity of Indian cricket.
Obstinacy is of two types. One was that was displayed by Sachin Tendulkar where he simply refused to play that stroke which sparked his downfall over and over again. The second type of that infamous human aspect was displayed by Virat Kohli today.
In recent times, the Indian Test skipper has been criticized mercilessly for not being able to score a century for more than two years now. Much to his woes, almost all of his dismissals have come while trying to play his signature cover drives.
Experts said that Virat should actually call Sachin and learn the art of not playing a particular stroke when that has been bothering him relentlessly. Other cricketers chipped in with words like that of “the doom of the Indian skipper is nigh.”
A few said that Virat Kohli was in a hurry to put a full stop to his career. However, the man in question had absolutely different answers to all the inquisitions that he was up against.
Kohli was hellbent to play his signature stroke and he opened his account today with a delightful cover drive against Marco Jansen. Hoping to rope Kohli in a similar fashion, the South African fast bowlers started tempting him in an area that has always been the downfall of the India skipper in recent times.
Things were much different from other days, today. Kohli showed exemplary judgment and let the balls on the off-stump fly to Verreynne. He had no hurries whatsoever to poke around.
He took his time, got his eyes set and played impeccable strokes to punish the South African bowlers. It felt as if he was obstinate to tell the world that he will wring out his lost glory through that infamous cricketing stroke that has brought him more woes than success in recent times.
He had an unspoken zeal in him today which told the millions criticizing him that he was far from over. He was just warming up to end that drought which has felt pretty exhausting and consuming for his fans.
— ICC (@ICC) January 11, 2022
He was just prepping himself for that counterblast that the world has been in desperate need of. A man whose technicalities were questioned decided to walk up to the outside of the off-stump and trade those deliveries to the ropes with a panache of a lion knowing that the prey is well within its grasp.
As wickets kept on falling at the other end, Kohli knew that he had to up his tempo. Despite playing a brilliant knock, while trying to attack the bowlers in the end, he tripped and eventually ended up holing out to the keeper.
The stats will again say that Kohli made the error of playing a ball outside the off-stump and history as unkind as it always has been, will add another dismissal in that exact spot where Kohli has struggled, but it would not chronicle the exact situation that compelled the Indian captain to resort to such austere measures.
There was a cold, hard and calculated stance in Kohli’s famished eyes today. It felt as if they were looking desperately for an outlet of the pent-up throes of a man who has been relentlessly trying to get his form back.
There was a belief in Virat Kohli today and that was of leading the team from the very front to the doorsteps of history. Maybe, only if he would have been supported enough by the others, probably history would have said something different, but as cricketing literature would put it, today’s knock from Kohli was poetry in motion on one hand while a wild slash of his blade to dethrone his Doctor Strange Supreme avatar from his mantle, on the other.