Frankly speaking, billions have aspired so far to be like Sachin Tendulkar. But only one has managed to emulate him the closest ever.
Virat Kohli needs to achieve a few more accolades to be seat beside a person who is reckoned God by most — he needs to overcome at least a 15-year career, to say the least, surpass Tendulkar’s 100-century record, play a well-controlled Sydney like Test innings where no boundaries would pierce through the point and extra cover and show a befitting dominance.
It may look unacceptable to the majority but the consistency Kohli showing while scoring topples the kind of form Tendulkar enjoyed at the peak of his career. And it’s also the fact that we don’t even know whether at 27, the batting maestro is going through the form of his life. There is no such sign to show any denouement, not even a stagnant phase in this Kohli graph.
Stats say he averages a hundred in every four Tests and has reached 25 centuries in 171 ODIs, a massive record even Sachin Tendulkar didn’t have at that age.
He is now a player never seen before with the recent spate of scores he has had to his portfolio. Kohli is the first one to reach 4000 runs in IPL history, has the most number of centuries in a single edition and even 11 innings of 75 or more in T20s this year. You can explain the runs keeping in mind the fact that there is most likely no one better than Virat Kohli on the off-side, particularly in the cover area, at this moment.
And he is also blessed with amazing wrists which can easily flick the ball anywhere between midwicket and fine leg.
But where Kohli is outplaying his peers and former players is his unbelievable fitness. It’s not only the visual changes in his chiselled face and those tattooed muscular arms that are being analysed here.
If you take a close look, within the past two years or so, Kohli has managed to elevate his stamina to an outstanding level. And he achieved it through a boring but fruitful regime of ‘eat, sleep and train’. He doesn’t like over-training at the nets.
As a matter of fact, he didn’t even touch the bat ahead of last Wednesday’s match. Despite that, a fit body has kept Kohli in such a safe zone where he can manipulate anything he wants to and get away with it.
The obvious effects are for everyone to watch. He is running like an African gazelle between the wickets and while fielding, not a single moment Kohli has been seen trying to catch his breath.
What mash-up his fitness and technique is the resolve and hunger to win every match he plays. His emotions also support the same will. Continuously pumping his fists, screaming ‘come on’ and some other expletives, truly no one celebrates like Virat Kohli does.
Similarly when his team loses, no one seems as broken as Kohli. This week has seen the perfect example where Kohli’s vicious hunger of winning, domineering technique and fitness overcame a serious hand injury to notch the most devastating innings in recent times.
A webbing injury which needs seven stitches can be a debilitating factor for a bottom-handed player like Kohli. Advances in medical technology ease the pain but can’t reduce the discomfort.
The RCB skipper however decided to not give it any thought. “I didn’t hit any balls because I was injured, but when I settled down, I thought I shouldn’t think about my stitches. When I got the flow going, the pain went away and I was able to play shots,” that was all Kohli had to say after the match.
Indian cricket history has witnessed several instances where injuries ruled out important players at times when their teams needed them the most and the few players who have ignored the pain have seen their names etched in history.
Like Kapil Dev who decided to take a pain-killing injection to come up with a bowling figure like 5/28 and help India defend a mere 143 total against Australia in 1980-81.
All eleven Indian players bowled in the Antigua Test in 2002 but it’s Anil Kumble who will be the lasting memory of that famous Test for showing the guts to bowl with a broken jaw.
Undoubtedly Kohli is cut from the same cloth, only with a better fitness level.
For him, there is no need for an off-switch while playing. “T20s is just three hours a day. You still have 21 hours away, so why relax on the field?” he said recently. He has also admitted having surprised himself.
But the most significant point is as long as he maintains the current fitness level and thirst to win, it will be the toughest challenge to stop Virat Kohli from breaking every record his God owns.