Saturday, February 17, 2018

Virat Kohli: An Armour of Amor

Rohit and Virat are almost of same age. They have played together and against each other in most age groups Cricket. They are a mutual admiration society in spite of their incompatibilities when it comes to running between the wickets. If we look at the talent aspect, Rohit was always rated higher than Virat in the early days.

When a young Rohit made a name for himself in 2007 T20 World Cup, Virat was nowhere on the scene. But a decade later, Virat is the best batsman in the world across 3 formats while 30 plus Rohit is still considered young and talented underachiever. In spite of his great average and towering sixers, Rohit still remains an enigma for the Cricket crazy Indians. He has this "All or None" phenomenon where he either flops or buries the entire opposition team under humongous scores. He scores a 200 not out in a match and precious little in next 5 and manages to keep his average above 40. It has almost become a ritual.

While Rohit is consistently inconsistent, Virat is monotonous and monstrously consistent. I have always wondered why is it like that ! I finally found my answer in the post-match interview last night. Virat told Shaun Pollock, "I am especially thankful to my wife, who has always been supportive but has faced a lot of criticism in the past." He was searching for words there because for once, he was emotional. He was definitely talking about the 2014 tour of England when he had a string of low scores and Anushka Sharma, his girlfriend at that time was blamed by many on the social media.

Rohit Sharma is married to a demure and innocent looking middle-class girl. Virat Kohli on the other hand was in love with a Superstar in her own right. In the early days of their romance, Anushka was more famous and must have been richer than Virat. The media and social media is always obsessed with celebrities and the atrocious acronym Virushka or Virushka was trending weeks after they finally became man and wife.

Indian middle-class isn't kind to lady celebrities and they are superstitious to their bone marrows. They still consider a girl walking into the life of a boy can bring good or bad luck. Thus every time Virat failed, Anushka was blamed. India's failure to win 2015 CWC too was placed at the doors of the Sharma home. People thought the Sharma who wasn't playing was a greater reason for the debacle than the Sharma who was playing. Virat is a man with elephantine memory. He is an honourable man and has remembered all the abuse heaped on his girlfriend then and wife now. His commitment and passion to his girl is no less than his commitment to cricket and his team.

Rohit has a relatively easier life. He needs to score a century on his wife's birthday and a double century on their second wedding anniversary. His wife was never blamed for his failures and will never be blamed in future too. The teary eyed beauty became the Darling of the nation on their wedding anniversary. Even if Rohit had failed on that day, nobody would have even thought of her, leave alone blaming her.

Now imagine Virat Kohli's plight. Every Twitter troll that makes a negative reference to his wife when he fails and India lose will hurt him. We know, Virat Kohli doesn't take things lying down. Every time he walks to bat, he remembers those slights hurled at the love of his life. His almost robotic and unreal performances originate from his commitment to his love as much as it is born out of passion for his team. He's telling her, "Look, some idiots blamed you for my failures. They will wake up again to blame you if and when I fail again. And I am not going to give them that pleasure. I am not going to fail at all."

Every outrageous shot is a slap on the face for the trolls and every hundred is a renewal of his commitment to his team and to his love. Being Virat Kohli is a tough job; extremely tough actually. His success is taken for granted while his failure will invite exaggerated scrutiny and criticism apart from unwarranted comparisons with former greats, who were well behaved and not arrogant. Ram Guha may not like it but for Kohli, his arrogance is his weapon while his Amor (love) is his armour. As long as he uses them judiciously as he has done hitherto, he will continue to conquer. It is his love and passion out there, scaling new horizons.

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

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