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    The sudden announcement of Virat Kohli stepping down from Indian test cricket team captaincy has caught many of us off guard. The last defining image of Virat as test captain, venting out at the stump mic, might not be a pleasant one but that’s what you get with someone like him who wears his heart on his sleeves. Well, you can have your reservations about whether it’s right or wrong for a leader to be so emotional and expressive but then who defines this ?? Whatever may be your qualm, no one can deny the fact that he plays the game hard, fair, and within the defined frame of rules. And that passionate and emotional kind of things have worked well for him personally and for the team to a large extent. After all, we are talking about the biggest match-winner of the last decade (ICC MENS CRICKETER OF THE DECADE award is a testimony to that). Now that he has relinquished the captain's duty from all forms of the game, let’s take a moment and appreciate or dissect (if you want that way) the man and his impact. Obviously far from the clamour and bandwagon.

    It dates back to that 2008 under-19 cricket world cup at Kuala-Lumpur, which India won with Virat Kohli as its captain. Not that India had won it the first time, not the last time either. But that’s where everyone (especially those in talent scout and selection schemes) started to notice this kid. Ironically Virat wasn’t the highest scorer even for his team in that competition. There were way better performances and talented players in that team but hardly any of them made it to the highest level forget about being successful. If you wonder what made people ping their eye on him, It is the impact, passion, and emotion with which he presented the Indian contingent in that very tournament. People in the thick of things started to smell here is someone who can be that long racehorse and could be the man who is destined for bigger things and big occasions. At this point of his career, we can safely say, those people weren’t sensing non-sense then. 

    Very few could manage the smoothness with which he bridged that gap of Domestic to the hard international cricket. Right from the initial days, he gave a sense of someone who belongs to this level and is here to stay. In the 2011 world cup win at home, though he failed to score big but the impression was this man can soak the pressure and could steady the ship. Even then temperament and attitude were the two standout features of Kohli. But this game isn’t easy. At times it tests you mentally, physically, and technically in a harsh way. What requires is the right attitude, mental toughness, and a never-give-up mindset to come out as victorious. And Virat Kohli, is an embodiment of all of this combined. You simply don’t carry the Indian batting on your shoulder at the age of 23-24 that too was when the team was going through a generational shift alone on the back of talent. It requires something else and the grace with which Kohli performed in those days emboldened the impression that he has that extra bit in him to succeed at this level. People are still in awe of that Hobart knock which kind of set the world stage ablaze and he followed that with a master class at Mirpur. Those two knocks were the foundations of a superstar aura that followed him later. Again, apart from his cricketing talent, it was his keenness to succeed and that relentless desire of becoming the world's best with an unapologetic attitude and the self-belief that I’m the best helped him to dominate the world cricket in the years thereafter. It may appear as ego to the outside but the man knew and still knows, it is this belief system that acts as fuel to keep the fire in him burning. 

    In all these years of Virat Kohli at the helm of affairs of the most scrutinized cricketing job, there was never a boring or dull moment in the field. There was and rest assured never will be a moment when it felt like this man is playing for participation. You will always glue to the television with excitement even if you don’t like him or his style of functioning because with Virat Kohli what you always get is theatrics, drama, over the top celebrations, jaw-dropping and heart-pumping images/moments that you can always take as a souvenir for your involvement with the game even though virtually. He made it fashionable for the public to live through the highs and lows of the game through him. He makes mistakes, takes bad decisions, and sometimes blunder but that’s what we all do and that’s what associates us more with the man. A certain Harsha Bhogle paraphrased it beautifully, “Like a formula-1 race car simply can’t run at 40 kph, Virat Kohli can’t operate at less than 120%” and just can’t be a quiet customer in the field rather never was.

    The legacy of Virat Kohli, the captain is the transformation that he drafted into the team in terms of fitness and leading from the front as well. A complete team moulded itself in the mould of its captain and benefits were seen in the field particularly in test matches. The unconditional support and killing instinct that he laid down for his workhorses, the fast bowlers, and the belief that they are the best at this point in time and they could destroy any opposition anywhere in the world worked wonders for the team and we all witnessed some of the glorious moments in red-ball cricket in our history. Be it Jo’Burg 2018 or Gabba, Lords, The Oval, or Centurion 2021 whenever India was down and pushed, India pushed back with even more force. In all of the above-mentioned wins the undercurrent was fighting spirit, self-belief, and single-minded hell-bent obsession of going for the win no matter what the situation is, something that the world had already seen at the very first match of his test match captaincy when India went for the unthinkable of chasing 360 odd in the last day Adelaide pitch and my word they were nearly pulled it off. That’s what Kohli instilled in this Indian team in his vociferous, loud, brash, combative, animated, or egoistic whatever you want to name it that way, and that nobody can snatch from him. Alastair Cook, a modern competitor who played against many captains and teams and had the first-hand experience of gauging the pulse of opposition once said “If ever a team was shaped in the mould of their captain, it is this team” and we can’t agree more with him. 

    The aura, the adulation, the entertainment, the advertisement, the love and hate that Virat Kohli attracts is just blockbuster and rightly justifies the popular tag “KING KOHLI” and that is perennial. 

    There is a Virat Kohli in all of us. In fact, there should be one. And that will be the befitting tribute to the man who ingrained the conviction of fighting fire with fire in a generation of budding youngsters in a high-toned way.

    - Premsagar Nandi

    N:B: The writer is an avid cricket enthusiast. The views are personal. If anything you can get back via premsagarnandi@gmail.com 

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