Brats to super bats

Brats to super bats

Cricket

Brats to super bats

Virat Kohli

Perhaps, no other young Indian cricketers were as easily branded as brats like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. It was as if the world was waiting to find fault with them, and that common reluctance to deviate from tradition and accept anything new too added to the antipathy.

The world found problems with Kohli’s attitude, and he was expected to go the Vinod Kambli way – loaded with talent but too haughty to capitalise on his potential. Rohit’s was even bigger predicament, a care-for-nothing attitude coupled with fitness issues made him the obvious hate subject.

There were sympathisers but majority of the critics were not ready to give them a second chance, and such relentless criticism can invite only one possible reaction from youth – rebelliousness. Kohli and Rohit were not exceptions as they challenged a hostile world brazenly, trying to prove the critics wrong in their own way.

Perhaps, we weren’t able to understand their psyche as well. It’s quite hard in the new world for a youngster to keep away from temptations that money can bring. They also might have heard the comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and how nonchalantly they focused on cricket amidst even more frenzied adulation and mindboggling flow of money.

But Tendulkar and Dhoni are exceptions when it comes to concentration powers and ability to compartmentalise between their priorities on and off the field. Those players are born with that skill, and there are some others like Kohli and Rohit who will pick that on the way as they grow up as individuals and cricketers.

“It was always a pleasure to play alongside them. It was never in my mind that I had to be at their level. It has taken a lot of time and sacrifices to reach where they are now. There’s no point in comparing oneself to them. I have realised that in the last one and half years.

“In cricket terms, I admire them, but there is no use batting like them. Take first match of the World Cup, if I had tried to bat like Veeru bhai, I wouldn’t have ended up scoring much! They have that special ability that has made them legends. There is no point in doing which is not my strength. It’s all about playing to your strength,” Kohli explained.

That realisation has taken its own time to come. Before being the companion of success, Kohli had to go through numerous disappointing moments as early statistics failed to reflect his astonishing talent. Probably, his failure to translate talent to performance had played a part in the gnawing frustration that was vented in the form of rudeness, as the world called it.

Self-belief

But then it didn’t not take long for Kohli to realise that his career is going nowhere, and he decided to change himself and the world’s perception about him. Believe it, changing character and image requires a lot of courage and self-belief, and at 22 Kohli can proudly say he has both the qualities in abundance. “I feel good about myself for having changed what people did not like initially, and then transform that into performances. I feel good about it but it’s not something I want to be too proud of and get relaxed.

“The whole point in changing from that kind of attitude to this attitude is my consistent performance. I want to keep going,” the Delhi lad noted.

In the last year or so, Kohli has told the world emphatically that he has matured, but Rohit, despite his palpable improvements, might just have to wait some more time to make a statement of that level. Now, Rohit looks a lot relaxed, understands his role and ability better, he no longer has to shoulder the burden of being the next Tendulkar, and that once ever-swelling waistline has shrunk considerably, providing him a lean, mean look.

The change is not peripheral either. There is a visible attempt to improve his craft through sheer hard work, stemming from the realisation that talent alone will not take him to the next level. The flashy Rohit still appears time and again, but the Mumbai lad has learnt to attach a massive prize on his wicket and graft for runs, setting aside his ego.

The first one-dayer against the West Indies at the Queens Park Cricket Club, Port of Spain, offered an example of the blooming changes in Rohit. India were in a wobbly position, losing the top four batsmen with a further hundred runs needed to win. But Rohit stayed throughout the innings, battling a slow pitch and cramps, and it was a marked deviation from the Rohit we knew.

“How much ever talented you are, at the end of the day you have to score runs as only the runs you score matter. This is very important phase of my career and I have to keep scoring.”


Virat Kohli

ODIs    INNINGS        Runs        HIGHEST          AvERAGE                   100            50

56                 53         2037           118                   44.28                          5                 14

T20s 

4                     3              68                     28             34.0                           0                 0



Rohit Sharma


ODIs    Innings    Runs    Highest     Average    100    50

63             59          1323        114     28.76             2        6

T20s

21            18            414           79*      34.50           0          4

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