In every era of Indian cricket, there has been ‘the man’ – the one the team turns too, the one the lovers of cricket just cannot avoid watching… And today, Virat Kohli – yes, Sehwag was almost ‘the man’ – but there can only be one ‘man’ on a team, and Sehwag played with Sachin, and nothing more can be said – but Kohli – he not only played with Sachin, he became ‘the man’ on an Indian team with Sachin.
In every era of Indian cricket, there has been ‘the man’ – the one the team turns too, the one the lovers of cricket just cannot avoid watching. He has a special gait, a special style, a grace and a passion in his game – he makes cricket almost bow to him – not quite, but almost – and he makes the greatest game his very own. When I started passionately following Indian cricket in the early 60’s, (Mansoor Ali Khan) Pataudi was the man. Just a photo of him in the papers was enough to get the blood growling. And then I actually saw him play – twice – once in Pune, and once in Bombay (yes, it was still Bombay then) – and then I spent an afternoon with him in Pataudi. He was, for me and crores of others, ‘the man.’ Next, of course, was Gavaskar – and what a man. He took the fight to the opposition camp as no other player ever had, or ever will. He was the pioneer – he taught us how to face fast bowling – not only face it, but defy it and I had the immense joy of not only watching him play many, many times, but actually playing with him – and then working with him. Sunny, you will always be ‘the man’. Then, Sachin – oh, my – I cannot write more about him – except that to be ‘the man’ for 24 years was a feat only he could achieve. And today, Virat Kohli – yes, Sehwag was almost ‘the man’ – but there can only be one ‘man’ on a team, and Sehwag played with Sachin, and nothing more can be said – but Kohli – he not only played with Sachin, he became ‘the man’ on an Indian team with Sachin.
Kohli – the lean and powerful angles of his body and bat as he strikes the ball – only ‘the man’ can achieve that unique rhyme and rhythm. Yes, his face seems to modeled to the modern image, but he has now made even that image his own. He attacks, as all ‘men’ must – but he now attacks with both instinct and wisdom – that is the greatness all ‘men’ possess—add to this the fielding skills of almost-a-Pataudi, and you have the complete man. Others fear him, and silently admire him – we love him, and hold him in awe – he is the hub of the team, and of the youth of the nation – when he strikes, crores of hearts both flutter and flame. Yes, I wish he did not do so many ad-films – or if he did, he would avoid stupid ones – or at least ones that lie… But – Kohli is a child of his generation – and to expect him to defy the demands of his generation is too expect a little too much from him. But to watch him bat – as he did so recently in South Afica and New Zealand and then the World T20 — was too watch a warrior who relishes battle. As he twirls his bat after a waft to the leg, or a controlled drive to the off, or a swivel hook, is to watch an artiste twirl his brush, or a warrior his sword. His eyes not only blaze, they beckon – beckon the next ball, the next challenge… the next passion… Virat Kohli is the man…