He is still the ‘King Kohli’ surrounded by people and his distinct swagger remains very much a part of his personality, but at the same time he seems a completely different person and very approachable.
Even if you’re not a maniacal cricket fan, you still want to break a barrier to go near him and maybe just say ‘hello’.
There is every possibility that you will get a smile back and it will look very sincere, deep and real. Your day will be made and you will go home a happy man.
Cricket is a ‘performing art’ and as a performer it is not only his achievements but the connection he slowly creates with his fans will add immensely to his rich legacy.
It’s not just about praising the alpha male you see on TV screens every night while you’re munching on your dinner. Now the relationship seems much more organic where the following of fans and the reciprocity of their hero has become a two-way street.
Success teaches you a lot, but failure is definitely the greatest teacher. It may make you explore your inner vulnerabilities and you begin to connect more with the general public.
To watch Kohli connect with his fans, sign autographs, take selfies, pose for a group photo or share a moment or two with familiar faces from the media in these 14 days across various Australian cities will make one makes it feel that he no longer wants to alienate. people.
Famous actor Will Smith after the Oscar gate referred to what colleague Denzel Washington told him: “In your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes to get you.”
It’s not that he hasn’t stopped for selfies, autographs or a chat earlier, but the same Kohli in Australia 2015, England 2017 or 2019 looked like a man from another planet.
During his prime, if one looks at some of the selfies Kohli gave, it looked like another compulsory exercise. Perhaps the three years of unconditional support while he was struggling through a rough patch made him realize the need to carry people along.
In Melbourne, in Sydney, in Perth and in Adelaide, this correspondent met at least 10-15 different people who showed their selfies with Kohli while a few others showed autographs on caps.
A few also met him at a mall and some caught him at the coffee shop.
One Indian from Canberra, who came to watch a game in Adelaide, said: “We saw him at the coffee shop with some of the support staff. We were a little afraid to approach him, but he called us and posed with us.”
A junior women’s club hockey team in Melbourne got to pose with the former India captain in the middle.
Now if he sees familiar faces in the media, he will greet them with a smile and check on their well-being.
He smiled at a journalist turned Youtuber and also talked to him for a minute as he walked back from practice. The journalists and youtubers (there are also many) surrounded him.
“Aap sab aoo, (you all come),” he called everyone, including photo and video journalists, and posed with them. He was very angry with a traveling freelancer in New Zealand in 2020 for an article he wrote. He saw the journalist and asked him to join for a photo.
The videos will garner these youtubers thousands of hits and some of them will be laughing their way to the bank. Kohli is the reason for that smile. He is happy and it reflects in his game. The effortlessness is back with that smile.
As he celebrates his 34th birthday on Saturday, he has reached his second peak and one can bet his last shirt that even if another dip comes, rest assured, a few million pure fans will also join his bandwagon of ‘Viratians’ join.
Will India’s playing XI see any change?
The Indian team management may be wary of changing the XI for the all-important final group league match against Zimbabwe.
While Axar Patel (bowling 6 overs and batting 9 balls in total) looks severely underutilized, dropping him is not an option as Yuzvendra Chahal lacks the batting prowess.
However, there is a possibility that India will meet England in the semi-final in Adelaide (that will be clear on Saturday) and Chahal has a better record than any Indian spinner against Jos Buttler’s side.
But throwing him straight into a semi-final might be unfair to him and so it remains to be seen if he gets a game against Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe also have several left-handers in the top order.