The next Cricket King, Kohli

Have you seen Virat Kohli’s desperate, determined, still-discontent face when he scores a century? Were you able to observe his excitement when one of his team mates takes a wicket or scores a ton? Were you keen enough to see his expression every single time he got out? Were you watching when India won, and he pumped his fists in the joy of victory, and ran around like a kid? Do you see his disgust and utter hatred of loss?

I religiously follow the sport of cricket. Every ball is a moment. I use Cricinfo more than I use Twitter or Instagram or even Medium. It’s a sport that I have connected to so much, probably because I was born in the subcontinent, and it is a game that is in the hearts of every person around me. But I think it’s important to not just look at results or certain plays in the game to really feel and understand the passion that the players exhibit.

I’ve seen so many legends retire in the last few years, players who I loved watching smash those runs and pick those wickets in their prime. That was the time when I was growing up and learning what the sport meant to all of us. My growing years, I saw Kallis, Tendulkar, Ponting, Gilchrist, Sangakkara, … all shine in the glory of their talent, and the astounding results it produced. I still cheer like madness when there is a tense moment in an important game.

I scan through averages, I calculate performance, I wonder how they could handle the pressure, I fantasize watching them play live, I live to watch the edge of the seat moments that this game can provide. Part of my calling asks me to become a sports journalist, and I will one day.

Everytime I watched the game, I have always had this one player in every game who I wanted to make a century or take a lot of wickets. For many, it has been Sachin, and it is one of my favourite memories to have seen him make 175 live in my home city.

But for the last few years, I see one player as my cricket connection. I wish and pray that he scores runs every single time he is out on the field. I lose my mood, I act off the whole day in disappointment when he doesn’t. But the thing about his greatness, I am confident that his desperation on the cricket field will make me happy. His desperation converts to runs, to victories, to insane batting performances. I might not be watching every single ball he faces, but there is some heroic following I have developed for him, growing exponentially with every swing of the bat, every boundary he scores, and every look he gives to the bowlers. He is the reflection of this generation of ‘boiling blood’ and high ambitions.

Cricket is much like a recurring life cycle. You go out on to the field to perform. You have opponents to play against, who want to get you out on the very next ball, and you attempt to fight away all hardships and accumulate runs, memories, wealth, partnerships and success. You celebrate at every milestone, every wicket, every little happiness. You fall, you get hit, but you get back and up and resume the overs. But once you’re out, you have met instant death. One slight wrong decision that went to the slips. No more batting till 9 others are declared out. That means silent moments in the dressing room and the dreadful walk back, and the sinking feeling of not being able to come back and perform more. That is cricket. That is life.

Virat Kohli isn’t just a good cricketer. He is the most passionately expressive I’ve seen on the cricket field. I see that his confidence builds with every lift of the bat. Centuries are like a piece of cake to him.

But what inspires me most, is his approach to life. He will abuse and shout and feel anguish over every single dismissal. I doubt if he has ever been okay with getting out. He cannot submit himself to that acceptance. I wish I could live my life that way. I want my attitude to be so uncompromising and to be involuntarily annoyed by mediocrity.

The respect he has for his seniors players and the kind of things he does instantly are something that adds to this entire aura of cricketing passion that he owns. On Sangakkara’s last dismissal in International Cricket, something rare occurred. Kohli didn’t celebrate. He quickly ran to the legend, got his cap off and congratulated him on a great career. The look on his face spoke words about his level of inspiration he receives from seniors like Kumar, and I am sure Kohli will receive just as much commendation when he will one day leave the game.

Rohit Sharma got Kohli run out when he had the opportunity to become the fastest to 5000 runs in ODIs. Kohli was angry momentarily, till he walked off the field. Sharma scored a double hundred in that match. When Sharma lifted his bat in a slight apology to Kohli when he got the double ton, Kohli’s smile and extreme happiness for his teammate really made me feel a moment of beauty in sport. Every single time Rahane, Dhawan or Vijay or any batsman scores a century, his face lightens up like a proud colleague. I wonder how wonderful sport can be, how do I feel so happy when Rahane scores a ton? Or Dhawan smacks a boundary? Why does Yuvi’s story seem like the greatest one I’ve ever read?

I think of any cricketer I have been able to watch, including Sachin, I have never felt like being a fan of someone as much as I am of Kohli. He doesn’t just give me joy when he bats or wins or swears in absolute passion for the game. He teaches me to live life like you will hate death. Like you can get the best out of yourself every single time you need to perform. To be able to generate trust in every single thing you do. To be able to bear the pressure of not a small thing like a million critical souls, but the burden of being so talented.

R-C-B! Kohli-Kohli! are my favourite, and the most spiritual chants after Sachin Sachin, in this great sport, we call Cricket.

Virat Kohli is my favourite cricketer. He makes me love the sport more than I have, and I will always cheer for this hard hearted, loss hating dynamite on the field.