Walk with a swagger, speak with authority and when needed pull off a high back foot push for a straight six under extreme pressure.
Alas, we are not champions, but mere mortals, who do the next best thing: watch an artist at work and enjoy every moment while it lasts.
And maybe, live long enough to tell our grandchildren that we were a privileged lot to have seen geniuses like Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt and our very own Virat Kohli in action.
Intense sports performance can do funny things. This can be the reason for unbridled joy, but sometimes some achievements can make one paralyze.
Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was one such occasion where Kohli completely zoned out after Ravichandran Ashwin scored the most important one run of his life.
Mission accomplished, he quietly stepped back but left people pondering in disbelief.
This was not the rugged Virat born in West Delhi Kohli. The fist pumps were missing, the muscles of his chiseled jawline were relaxed. There wasn’t even a single swear word.
Was this Virat Kohli or an ‘impostor’ impersonating him? The vintage aggression was back in his game, but not in his body language. The intensity was full in his batting but he had no need to fake it as he once admitted that he did.
It seemed like a calm after the storm. Kohli no longer needed to reveal his emotions to express himself. He looked like a man at peace with himself.
Suryakumar Yadav, currently rated as the world’s best T20 batsman, ran inside the MCG turf and had a bear press.
Kohli pushed back, but as the TV cameras zoomed in, it looked like he was still trying to soak it all in. There was a big smile when skipper Rohit Sharma picked him up.
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Even the most beloved ‘Indiranagar Ka Gunda’, also the normally stoic Rahul Dravid let off some steam as he played with players and staff in the dugout and later put his arms around Kohli like an elder brother .
Abhinav Binding after winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, admitted that he felt hollow immediately after the Games. He had no target left.
For Kohli, there is a tournament to win, but one might pause for a moment and think, did he also go through a whole range of emotions that Bindra felt after Beijing?
Sometimes the feeling of excitement that comes with an exciting achievement is often trumped by a sense of relief.
The country wanted his 71st international century, but perhaps the champion in him wanted a bigger stage.
While the century had already been broken in the Asia Cup against Afghanistan, everyone wanted an innings like this and there could not have been a better opposition than Pakistan and that too on the eve of Diwali.
As he quietly walked back to the dressing room, he gave a thumbs up to one section of the crowd, but Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya insisted he also acknowledge the spectators on the other side of MCG. He did raise his hand for a second.
Kohli, the batter left its mark on our minds way back. But Kohli, the person is starting to grow in our minds.
He is showing that he is not the alpha male that market forces want us to believe he is. Rather, we get to know a new Kohli, more human, more vulnerable.
Like life, elite sport can be brutal as well as demanding at the same time. Kohli has faced this in the last three years when he faced the drought.
For someone, who scored international hundreds for fun, came under scrutiny and his place in the playing XI in T20Is was questioned.
Kohli had an eventful end to 2021 and start of 2022 by resigning from the T20 captaincy, removed from one-day leadership role and then relieved himself of the top Test post.
Even if you label intense scrutiny and criticism from experts as “outside noise,” everyone is human and bound to hurt. It should have happened to Kohli too.
He must have been bleeding from the inside and wanted his revenge in his own way: by letting his bat do the talking for him.
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The last three years must have taken a lot out of the cricketer Kohli and no one would complain if there was a ‘Hand of God’ in this perfectly written script.
His wife Anushka’s Instagram post gives a glimpse of what Kohli must have gone through in the past few years.
“Although our daughter is too young to understand why her mother was dancing around and screaming wildly in the room, she will one day understand that her father played his best innings that night which followed a phase that for him was difficult, but he came out stronger and wiser than ever before! Your strength is contagious,”
‘Chak De India’ may have been appropriated as India’s sports anthem, but anyone who is a fan of 1980s rock wouldn’t have minded humming Bonnie Tyler’s hit number from the movie ‘Footloose’.
“I need a hero. I’m holding out for a hero until the end of the night. He’s got to be strong, and he’s got to be fast. And he’s got to be fresh from battle.”