There is world of footballers which is filled with style, on the field and off the field show offs, dating supermodels, driving super cars and then there is life of Indian cricketers where one is expected to be modest, humble and politically correct all the time. Football has seen many players who not only play well but also are style icons and have flamboyance in them which made them a brand that everyone looks up to. Beckham, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic are few players who fall in this category. They not only entertain people all over the world with their game but are also style icons and are loved by women/girls. Their fame makes even best in hollywood envy of them.
Indian cricket has seldom seen such players. Sachin, Dravid were great players but not style icons and definitely not the ones who would like to show off. Yuvraj Singh to some extent fit in both category. Dhoni on the other hand was successful both as player and as brand ambassador of many companies but we don’t associate flair and “i am the best attitude” with Dhoni.
Cricket has changed big time post the introduction of T20 cricket and so have the players. Indian cricket has found one such player who is not only best in his game but also has unmatchable flair and attitude and called as spoiled brat: the name of the player is Virat Kohli.
When Virat came in team India in 2008, a little bit of Delhi’s flair and attitude was visible but he was nowhere close to what he is now; perfect in batting, perfect in style, perfect in attitude. Hundreds of article have been written on his exceptional ability to chase targets and his century making spree, so i would like to dive into other aspects of Kohli.
Virat Kohli is more proud than what suits to a star like him, he loves the all the attention, he loves the camera, he has tattoos all over his body, has a different hairstyle for different seasons, has a perfect beard, he also has a fit body and six pack abs. Not long ago, he was dating a superstar girl from bollywood and unlike others he didn’t hide his love for her. He publicly acknowledged his love for her through his famous flying kiss after scoring half century against Sri Lanka. All this was never expected from an Indian cricketer. He is expected to be humble and down to earth guy who lets his game do all the talking and here is Kohli doing exactly opposite of what is prescribed.
There is one famous line that can be associated with Kohli : “Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him” . His performances, his antics makes sure that people will notice him.
When you see attitude of Kohli, it’s very unlike Indian attitude of “being humble” and “let the bat do the talking” attitude. He is in face of opposition all the time and reminds them that he is gonna beat the hell out of them. Ganguly was a player that came close to having such attitude but he was not as frequent as Kohli is in pricking opponents and sometimes even team-mates and fans.
Kohli has more of the Aussie DNA than Indian DNA and much like Ricky Ponting, Hayden and other great Aussies, he backs his attitude with great performances. When he says to a bowler that he is going to hit him all over the park, he means business and he does it more often than not. Grin, behind the helmet, that comes after he hits bowlers all over the park, defalte and hurts the bowlers. It makes them look like lesser mortals compared to immortal brilliance of Kohli.
In recently concluded India-Australia series, it was funny to watch Faulkner sledge Kohli, it seemed that Faulkner deliberately forgot that Kohli has more Aussie attitude than what current Aussie XI possess together and Faulkner, more obviously, paid price for it. May be someone like Ponting can give Kohli some fight in sledging battle but not this new generation of Aussies.
A decade or two earlier his behaviour would have been branded as obnoxious but for this generation he is audacious and represents the young India that is no longer under hangover of colonial supremacy. He represents the young India that doesn’t like tag of underdogs or aspiring champions, they are impatient for success and sees champions tag as their well deserved right,
No one can forget Ganguly’s shirt waving at Lords balcony or V. Prasad’s send off to Aamir Sohail. These moments excites us and gives us happiness, Kohli gives us these moments in every series. He goes out, pricks the ego of opposition with his words, with his antics and then follows up with great performances and wins the match for India. The more is the pressure, the better is the performance of Kohli. He never gives up and takes responsibility of taking team across the finishing line.
His frustration at his own failures, at his teammates’ failure doesn’t have a negative connotation. His emotions gets better of him because he is passionate for game, passionate for win and wants his teammates to do well. As a captain, he expects same passion and zeal from his players. His attitude, visibly, rubs off on the players as well, which is evident from a much changed and aggressive attitude of team India under his captaincy.
His attitude had many critics in early stages of his career but slowly and gradually he won over them with his performances and with his respect for game. He is the showman of Indian cricket. He has become what Sachin Tendulkar was for previous generation: an inspiration. He is Sachin Tendulkar of this generation with flair of Cristiano Ronaldo and attitude of Muhammad Ali.
“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”
~ Muhammad Ali
this article was first published in Sportskeeda.