Virat Kohli and the attainment of batting nirvana
On the evening of 18th March 2012, an Indian batting maestro walked back to the pavilion one final time wearing the blue jersey that had seen him scale the greatest of cricketing heights in limited overs cricket.
With a mammoth 18,426 runs and 49 centuries across a 463 match career, Sachin Tendulkar played his last ODI against Pakistan in this crucial Asia Cup encounter, leaving India with 197 to get off the remaining thirty overs against a potent bowling attack.
However, what he also left behind was a prodigy, a sheer batting genius molded pretty much in the same clay as he himself was. Batting at the other end that day was the 23-year-old Virat Kohli, who was just one year old when Tendulkar first represented India, ready to carry forward a legacy, and to establish one of his own.
When Kohli's 183 took India over the line that night, word started doing the rounds- the baton had been passed. And ever since, one really has to dig dip into memory to unearth a phase in Kohli's career that could not be termed as a purple patch.
He has so nonchalantly raised the bar of batting and record breaking, that now when he comes out and weaves his magic, breaking and creating records, they hardly come as surprises. A stat that could fathom his recent achievement of entering the 10,000 club in a record 205 innings is that it is mathematically equivalent to someone sprinting 100m in 7.58 seconds, two less than Bolt's all-time heroic.
If even that does not seem convincing, the fact that Kohli will average 50 in ODIs even if he scores ducks in his next 32 innings should settle any remaining doubts. There are many qualities that one can associate with Kohli- determination, perseverance, grit, optimism, bravery, aggression, self-belief, confidence, passion and the list can go on and on. But the one quality that makes Kohli Virat and makes him stand apart from all others playing the sport is his consistency.
The ability to turn up day in day out undeterred, and to do the same thing harmoniously, with undiminished passion and hunger is what sets King Kohli apart. The fact that he has left us all speechless shows how insanity- beyond a limit- leads to humans becoming inarticulate.
Commentators are falling short of superlatives, experts are bored of praising the same things over and over again, opponents are tired of attempting to find chinks in his armour, and fans have lost count of how many records he has already broken; the ease with which he is steamrolling records has killed the surprise a new one could create. The only people he is keeping busy and interested are the statisticians, who have data aplenty to dig deeper and deeper into.
It just seems that Kohli is totally unaware of all that happens around him- unbothered by changes in his surroundings. Conditions, opponents, bowling attacks, crowds, grounds, venues, situations- there hardly seems to be anything on earth that is capable of perturbing this man. It is all fed into this system that he follows-trains hard, keeps fit, turns up on match day, scores a century, picks up the awards and leaves the world adulating all over it.
Having said that, it is not as though Kohli does not make the required adjustments to adapt to changes. The fact that he has worked so hard on his fitness goes a long way in suggesting that he is well aware of the needs of the hour, the results of which are evident.
The benefits can be spotted in his innings like the one in Centurion earlier this year, where he ran 100 out of his 160 runs amidst torrid conditions in a city struck by drought, and the latest one in his happy hunting ground at Vizag where he batted throughout the innings in sultry conditions, fighting his way out to 157* after not having met the sweet part of the bat for most of the first half of his batting essay.
The only changes visible from the outside over the years are the gradual greying of the beard, the dawning of maturity of a gentleman and the kissing of the ring celebration rather than the animated ones that characterised him a decade ago.
Neither does he bludgeon the ball like Gayle does, nor does he artfully scoop it to various parts of the ground like de Villiers does, nor does he score double hundreds like Rohit, all of whom are close friends and teammates. Virat Kohli simply goes about collecting his runs in a method of his own- a method that has helped him attain this trance-like condition- this batting nirvana.Published 26 Oct 2018, 03:28 IST