Man Who Makes Adversity His Comfort Zone

A lot of legends, a lot of people, have come before me. But this is my time


— Usain Bolt, sprint legend.

Virat Kohli could mouth the same words and nobody would hold a grudge. More than 15 years into a glorious cricketing career, it certainly is his time, the way it was Sachin Tendulkar’s more than a decade ago.

It no longer matters that he has aced all formats of the game, beaten Sachin’s One-Day record and continues to chase down daunting targets. Milestones don’t mean much either. Virat Kohli the legend has overtaken Virat Kohli the cricketer.

In popular imagination, he is much more than his exploits on the field. That’s something interesting about the status of a legend. MS Dhoni is no longer the swashbuckling finisher he once was, or even a regular cricketer, but the adoration for him is palpable in every nook he walks into. Virat is in the same space right now.

India paused when Sachin approached a milestone. Not so the case with Virat. But Sachin was God; Virat is a mere mortal. The comparison is unfair. Sachin was gifted, marked for greatness very early, Kohli’s story is one of sweat and toil, mind and muscle and of sheer determination. And, Sachin didn’t exactly belong to the age of viral social media, where personal lives are under as much scrutiny as professional lives and heroes can turn vile creatures overnight. Gods could have a longer shelf-life then.

Legends never lose. They learn. They level up and they launch back, goes a saying. Virat’s life — and career-graph — fits nicely into it. His is a story of relentless struggles and hard work. His talent was never in doubt ever since he burst into the higher age-group cricket, but a modern-day cricketer needs so much more than talent!

The stats are impressive – 8,848 runs in 113 Tests at an average of 49.15; 13,848 runs in 292 ODIs at an average of 58.67; 4,037 runs in 117 T20Is at an average of 51.75. But they don’t disclose the entire Virat Kohli story. They don’t reveal much how he revels in a challenge, almost making adversity his comfort zone. His record in run chases explains it well. They don’t talk about his dedication to fitness and intense training, one of the pillars of his success. At 35-plus, he is the fittest cricketer in the team. He runs the fastest, spends the most time at the rebound net and is among the sharpest fielders. Behind all this is steely determination.

And sheer passion. Watch his demeanour on the field, his celebration after a wicket and total involvement, you realise where his greatness comes from. The celebration is a bit mellowed now, but the passion is still visible. This is the man who was thrown out of the ODI captaincy, resigned from T20I and Test leadership — all between end of 2021 and beginning of 2022. A lesser soul would have gone into retirement mode. Not Kohli. He has rebounded with renewed energy.

He is fit enough to carry on for at least five more years. By then he is likely to have broken all records and made some unique ones of his own. None of his contemporaries is even close. It’s a marathon, with the victor already known.

Yes, legends have come before. And there will be more in the future. But this is Virat Kohli’s time.


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