During the course of a magnificent, marauding and merciless century which took the wind out of the collective sails of the Sri Lankans at Hobart, when Virat Kohli essayed a powerful cover drive, an impressed Ian Chappell exclaimed that this stylish right handed batsman had a bit of ‘swagger’ about him. The former Australian cricket captain undoubtedly knew what he was talking about as during his playing days he himself was not bereft of a ‘swagger’ or two! Virat Kohli, the enfant terrible of Indian cricket, though not boastful of an imperious ‘swagger’, such as epitomized by the incomparable Sir Vivian Richards, has sans a semblance of doubt created a strong impression during his short and illustrious tenure on the cricketing field till date as a fiery competitor and a fascinating cricketer.
An ‘in-your-face cricketer, who firmly believes in the tried and tested adage of ‘an eye for an eye’, Virat Kohli exudes self belief and has in his repertoire an abundance of determination and fortitude along with an envious armoire of searing drives and controlled pulls. Whether it be mouthing expletives after the completion of a century (a fact which provoked the original little Master Sunil Gavaskar to complain that Kohli had a ‘school-boy temperament’), or giving a bunch of hostile and taunting spectators the ‘middle finger’ salute, Kohli’s actions and antiques convey neither a contrived effort nor a casual aberration. Giving an impression of possessing taut nerves of steel, Kohli is like a coiled serpent which at the least provocation would bare its venomous fangs and strike with extreme rage. Controversy, to this extraordinary bundle of talent is as natural as the exhilarating strokeplay that he employs to thrill millions across the length and breadth of the globe. The former Under 19 World Cup winning captain does not seem to believe in either remorse or repentance, but only in consequences. The inappropriate gestures, the irascible flood of obscenities in combination with the incredible array of batting firepower, are all but mere means to achieve the more important and permanent end. An end which for this temperamental youngster is nothing less than a victory for his team.
His philosophy of aggression is implemented with singular conviction in every facet of his game. The never-say-die attitude is reflected in every elbow grazing dive, maniacal running between the wickets, lobbing some innocuous but wary lollipops as a part-timer, spectacular lunges to get his hands on a flying ball leaving him spread eagled on the ground, and also in every kick of disgust and a lamentful holding of a hand upon his head whenever his tenure at the crease comes to an end. The end of every single dismissal, for this remarkable cricketer is, in his convinced mind, a pre-mature termination of a knock, irrespective of whether he is yet to get off the mark or has blitzed a breathtaking hundred! This hungry and wolfish attitude, has certainly gone a long way in raising the standard of Virat Kohli as a batsman, and more importantly as a cricketer.
This is a man for whom playing the game that he loves and playing it in the way in which he feels is the best way to do it, constitutes a veritable douceur de vivre. Some stellar statistics, especially in the shorter version of the game also provide ample testimony to the fact that the performances of this mercurial cricketer are in no way restricted merely to his antiques. Boasting a commendable average and an inspiring strike rate, he at times, has combined with a perpetrator in crime, and at others, produced solo virtuoso performances to bestow India with some memorable wins. So when he pummeled, pulverized and put to sword, a stupefied Sri Lankan bowling attack in general and a pole-axed Lasith Malinga in particular, on his way to a match winning, undefeated knock of 133 off only 86 deliveries, the cricketing world would have been forgiven for being stunned but not for an expression of surprise!
Even though the blitzkrieg at Hobart might not be enough for India to make the finals of the Commonwealth Bank series, Virat Kohli’s veritable objet d’art has left no one in doubt that a part of the future of Indian cricket is bright and boisterous. It is a unique part indeed, for, in addition to possessing a middle finger, an occasional mohawk, a good deal of wrath, and a motor mouth, it also has ‘masterclass’ written all over it!