Virat Kohli era has started, He is the new Sachin Tendulkar: Sunil Gavaskar
Virat Kohli is playing the role Sachin Tendulkar used to do for India: Shahid Afridi
As Tendulkar walked into the sunset, Virat Kohli is set to become the Indian batsman opposition bowlers fear the most.
Lots of people talk about Virat’s anger and aggression etc. Do I need to remind you that even Sachin was very much aggressive during his early years (~the 1990s)? Although, during that time, sledging wasn’t the general norm and most of the conversation happened eye-to-eye or the more well-known language of bat-to-ball. Just look at any (non-Australian) player during the 80s or 90s. If anyone was called aggressive, it wasn’t because of sledging or using words. It was because of the way they treated the other team while working the 22-yards.
I am not that big a fan of Virat, I understand that the only god in cricket can be Sachin, no matter what. That being said, Virat can always meet or break the records that Sachin made. There will be many enthusiasts who would be seeing Virat scoring 100+ centuries as well. But no matter what he does, he will be just breaking a record. While Sachin, on the other hand, made the record. He made fans look for something where there wasn’t anything at all. The little man, with a number 10 printed on his back, made 120 crore population from India and at least half the population from our green neighbour pray for his 100th century. I doubt Virat could unite India and Pakistan in a similar fashion.
Looking from a match-winner point of view, I see that Sachin and Virat have similar characteristics. There have been numerous instances of Virat scoring 50+ or a century while the wickets at other end are dropping like the administrative regime in Pakistan. Remember the good old days, when we used to come after school and ask our dad has Sachin got out or is he still playing? If he was, there was a hope, no matter the target. If he wasn’t, we started working on our homework.
Now let’s get a bit poetic. And I mean Harsha Bhogle level of romanticism. His exact quotes on a Sachin’s straight drive: “When Sachin straight drives, the world seems a bit better place.”
I’ve seen lots of matches, live on TV or recorded on YouTube. There have been lots of good players of the straight drive. In fact, Dravid’s was exactly from the textbook. But the way that red leather rolls away from the bowler’s butt with Sachin’s bat positioned over his shoulder after that perfect straight drive for a boundary on green mid-off in Durban… I can never forget that sight. No poet can.
Now Virat’s straight drive: almost always lofted, bounces right outside the 30-yard circle and dribbles away into the foam boundary. It adds the same number. His bat takes the same course. But the poetry is missing. Same about the cover drive. Virat can perfect it. He hits it harder than Sachin. Sachin’s was more eloquently placed. But the poetry, again.
Kohli’s, well, he is more of a college graduate cooking for his date. He took the same recipe from the same blog post. But he is not sure of the poetry involved. He knows that the timing to slash the edge against the ball is vital. He raises his bat a bit too early, although not in a position yet. He has the trajectory of the ball in his brain. He can plot the ball with his eyes closed. He has seen the seam of a ball hit that crack. He now arches back and pushes his bat against the ball. The contact is made. The ball is running for the boundary. But not behind the 1st and 2nd slip. Between 3rd and gully. He got the runs again. He made the same recipe. Everybody is satisfied. The taste was great, zing was good. But the poetry wasn’t there.
So there you have it. Is Virat Kohli a better cricketer than Sachin Tendulkar?
It is NO. Kohli is a great player, no doubt about it. In fact, he is the best in the current generation and will remain as the best. But, what Sachin did to Cricket is beyond measurement. Ignore the milestones and records. Virat might reach or even cross Sachin’s record in the future. Even then, Sachin will stand tall.