Just in case you had lost count of the number of centuries that Virat Kohli has scored, the latest one against South Africa was his thirty-fourth in ODIs and his fifty-fifth international hundred. The drought in Cape Town couldn't save the South African bowlers from Kohli’s flood of runs.Each time he comes out to the ground with the bat, he just goes back leaving fans and critics in awe of another classic inning filled with batting artisanship and statisticians dwelling deeper into numbers to account for the number of new records created or broken.
Former cricketers and experts across the globe are relentlessly showering praise on the man who has taken batting to a different level altogether. Being a staunch devotee myself, there could not have been a prouder moment.
Yet, I am sure that the masterful Kohli will use his willow like a wand to make us all even prouder.
The kind of performances that he has been delivering, which he has now made a habit of, remind me of certain lines of a poem I had once read in my high school, ‘If’, by Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling. This admirable piece of literature contains a multitude of traits that the poet deemed quintessential for one to be a man.
The first line, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs” fits perfectly on Kohli. He has proven, time and again, how mentally tough he is when dealing with crunch situations and even when his teammates have resorted to impatient means. He never lets himself lose grip of match situations. In fact, it is this calmness and character that he exhibits while pulling off those incredible chases.
Virat Kohli is the product of astute determination and hard work which is a major reason for the immense self-confidence that he has in his ability. The words “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you” are a fitting definition of this self-belief, which is often mistaken by doubters as overboard aggression.
One paragraph talks about “Dream - but don't make dreams your master, think - and not make thoughts your aim; if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same”.
This again resonates with the kind of person we all know Kohli is. He is surely someone who dreams big and aims to be the best, but his imagination is not one devoid of action. He supports his thoughts with decisive actions, and being fully aware of the kind of preparation and execution of skills required to fulfill those dreams, he turns up every day, looking to give his 120%.
He has experienced victory, he has experienced defeat, but none of what happened in the past matters when he takes the playing field. Each day is a new beginning, wherein he just wants to take back the gratification of having given his best.
The words “lose, and start again at your beginnings, and never breathe a word about your loss” are ones Virat has seemed to be doing justice to, more so after being the team’s captain. You will never find him complaining about playing conditions or other external factors in a bid to justify defeat. He is one who confronts failure, and rather than talking about the uncontrollable stuff, he aims at working on the chinks in his armor. He is tough on himself, and the one thing he assures you after a loss is that he will come back better and stronger.
“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone, and so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them: Hold On!”.
Kohli exuberates energy in each of his actions. After his 160-run knock against the Proteas, he said, “amazing things can happen when you are thinking team all the time. You can push your body beyond limits that you might not push for yourself otherwise. I experienced that today, and that was an amazing feeling.”
Be it the first ball he plays, or the one he finishes the match off in style, be it the celebration of picking up a frontline batsman, or the joy of effecting a run out of a tail-ender, he is a live wire; a pillar of concentration and willpower, both emanating from the ultimate aim of being the best and further underscoring his ‘Never Say Die’ attitude.
The concluding paragraph serves as the perfect ode to King Kohli. “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, your’s is the earth and everything that’s in it. And which is more, you'll be a Man!”
The immaculate timing that he provides his strokes is not the only place where Kohli exemplifies how much he values time. The kind of fitness levels he has set for himself and the team are there to be seen. After running for 100 of his 160 runs in torrid conditions, this is what Kohli had to say, “I am going to be 30 this year. I want to play this kind of cricket even when I am 34-35. That is why I train so much. Because I am a guy who likes to play with intensity. Once that is gone, I don't know what I am going to do on the field. I try to train as much as I can. I keep a check on my diet. Those things pay off on days like these.”
So, the next time Virat Kohli walks on to the cricket park, let's not just think how much he will score. Let's not just count how many records he has entered in the books. Let's not compare him with legends of the era gone by. Let's not adjectivize his performance, for he will only go beyond the superlatives.
Let us just sit back and bask in the glory of the craftsman as he plies his trade. Let us just appreciate the reasons he gives us to smile. For that, he will.