Kolkata: Greatness is assessed in terms of one’s contributions when the chips are down. And when it comes to Indian cricket it is the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath, GR Viswanath, Kapil Dev and Rahul Dravid who have always risen to the occasion.
But with due respect to the Tendulkars and Laxmans, here’s a guy who is 28 and already attaining greatness. The happy-go-lucky guy has transformed himself into a man who means business and that’s Virat Kohli for you.
Gone are those days of wild lifestyle, Kohli after scoring his third Double Ton in Tests, has once again proved that he has in him to brave all odds. With the double century against England at the Wankhede Stadium, he has become the only Indian skipper to score three double-hundreds in the process, which is no mean an achievement. As a captain he leads from the front and as a player he has come up with too many match-winnings knocks for his team in all the versions of the game and this is the reason why Kohli stands apart. With the triumph over Alstair Cook’s men in Mumbai today, Kohli, the skipper has now 13 Test victories to his credit in 21 matches
Be it in ODIs or T-20 Internationals or Test matches, here is one guy who has had the guts to face adversities under all conditions and Kohli hasn’t let us down. Look back and world cricket over the years has thrown legends and performers who have excelled in difficult situations be it Viv Richards or Vinoo Mankad or Imran Khan or Steve Waugh or you name them. Even Viswanath despite not being considered in the categories of Gavaskar, has played many memorable innings under crisis for his team.
Take for example, Waugh who despite not being the best batsman of the Australian side has joined the party when the odds have not been in favour. Richards was the undisputed King of Cricket with his dominance over the opposition bowling attack. Mankad during the ‘50s was a one-man-army with the bat and the ball. Let’s not forget the South African Jacques Kallis who has silently been a savior for his South African team.
Well, the Eden Gardens Test against Waugh’s men in 2001 wouldn’t have been won by India had Dravid not joined VVS Laxman. Dravid may not have scored a double ton (180), but his innings gave the support to Laxman that paved way for an Indian victory. And Dravid has been a pillar for Indian cricket in both Tests and ODIs. Can you forget the 2003 World Cup encounter against Pakistan when Dravid and Yuvraj Singh saw India through at a time when crisis was staring at Ganguly’s boys?
In this context even keeping in mind, Joe Root and others, Kohli has surpassed his contemporaries. He has the temperament and technique to face challenges. As a captain he is aggressive yet he doesn’t get carried away. As a player, he knows when to take charge and this where he is different. With a total of 15 Test centuries and 26 hundreds in the 50-over format, Kohli is ahead of his contemporary greats, but it is not a question of the number of runs he has scored, but the way he has amassed these runs when on many occasions, his team was in trouble.
Indians should revel in the fact that greatness in Indian cricket has never been elusive over generations. Mankad, Gavaskar, Dravid and now Kohli, we are never short of greatness. Kohli is young and has a lot of cricket left in him, one hopes that he doesn’t go astray and he continues to be consistent because Indian cricket needs this Delhi guy if we are looking at the road ahead.