Why Virat Kohli is the new Sachin Tendulkar, representing the aspirations of India’s youth
My fellow Indian cricket lovers, let us rejoice for we have a successor to Sachin Tendulkar. Ever since the Indian ‘God’ of cricket retired on 16 November, 2013, India had been on the lookout for its next superhero of cricket. Well, the search has now ended. Indian cricket has found its new king.
Propelled by his heroics, a young man from New Delhi, with a middle class background, has stepped up and been crowned the emperor of Indian cricket. The name of that man is Kohli. Virat Kohli.
He is not a God like Sachin. In fact, he’s a self-proclaimed disciple and devout follower who bows to the one true ‘God’ of Indian cricket as seen at the recent Indo-Pak WT20 game at Eden Gardens.
Sachin’s godliness during his career brought ample reverence for Indian cricket. Dravid, Laxman, and Ganguly, were some of his closest allies. Each of them, like ‘God’ himself, was equally modest and forgiving. Divinity, therefore, wasn’t the need of the hour for Indian cricket in modern times.
Cricket, they say, is a ‘gentlemen’s game’. Played by mortals. Hence, each time ‘God’ and his allies played against the mortals, they hada tendency to ignore a sledge. Walk away from a verbal contest. Be humble and gracious. We all know that’s not how mortals play cricket these days – especially those Aussies.
The successor to ‘God’, had to be a human. An ambitious, arrogant, aggressive, sledging, tattooed, human. And that’s everything Virat Kohli is and more.
He’s unapologetically cocky. Adequately flawed. Selectively immodest. Abundantly talented. Kohli relishes a contest and a sledge, alike. He’s always hungry for a triumph and is ever so sure of his ability and skill. He wears his heart on his sleeve, loves flash cars, and the odd Bollywood heroine too. He loves a stage and always delivers a performance.
And herein lies the cult of Virat Kohli. He embodies the dreams, the ambitions, and the sentiments of modern day India, especially its youth, and its ever expanding middle class. He has the guts and the craft to stand tall in a contest and then ruthlessly tear apart the opposition. He loves the hunt, and then flaunts the trophy on his wall.
Indian cricket, traditionally, had never been associated with such flair and aggression. It has historically been a docile proposition more reliant on the skills of its players with the bat and ball. Body language, sledging, aggression, and ruthlessness have seldom been the mainstay of Indian cricket.
One can’t help think that the meteoric rise and popularity of Virat Kohli is synonymous with the evolving ethos of India as a nation, and more importantly Indian youth. India is trying to break out at the global stage. India, and Indians, are pushing global boundaries, trying to assert themselves as a self-reliant, progressive, and a confident nation.
The modern Indian youth is increasingly educated, driven, honest, and fiercely independent. Traditional Indian values are revered but not blindly trusted or followed. Modern Indian youngsters exercise logic and reason and believe in making informed choices.
This is where Kohli pushes the envelope as an Indian cricketer, and resonates with the public. Along with his masterful lofted drive over extra cover, or his artistic flick off the pads on the on-side, or that well-timed dive at mid-off to save a boundary, he offers a fine display of passion and emotions. He nudges the boundaries of political correctness and makes no bones about winning, at any cost. And yes, he wears his tattoos with pride, and is every bit as flawed as the very next person.
Virat Kohli is the face of modern India: a true ambassador of India’s ascendency in cricket and as a nation. Contemporary India is a potent mix of values and pragmatism and Kohli is its true icon on the cricketing field (and off it). Often, when India hurts from a communal wound, his cricketing heroics have the power to heal an entire nation.
Virat Kohli is destined for accolades and adjectives. And there is no bigger praise than being the successor to ‘God’.