Of Gods and Comparison

Last few years have been anything but silent for the next modern genius in the game of cricket, Virat Kohli. Usually the “experts” avoid themselves from bestowing emerging players with titles such as genius, something that they proudly save for the veterans. However, this young Delhiite has thrown almost everything imaginable at them (read stellar nerveless batting) to make them doubt their title-qualifying parameters, but still appears no way near exhausting his arsenal.

Whenever someone breaks away from the crowd and pours his heart out in his performances, the world halts to make sure it notices that well. And if that crowd is a billion-people strong, that someone almost becomes a world force. Add to that the innocence of a child, class of a genius, humility of a tree, eagerness to improve, the innumerable roles that he would play in and out of the ground, and what you witness is an aura of divine force. Such was the impact of Sachin Tendulkar in the lives of the people who shared even a fraction of his love for the game he breathed. An immaculate passion to succeed boosted him from a prodigy to superhuman standards. As much as the nation rested its hopes on two small shoulders, the stronger they become and the taller they took its status in the world.

Factually, the entire picture of the emergence of Sachin Tendulkar as the cricketing god is not as linear as mentioned above. And it is not hard to imagine that individual brilliance will seldom take you beyond the finishing line in team sports. All that divinity that reflected from his game would often prove too much for his own teammates to even live around, and would thusly result in losses more often than not. Well, that was putting it gently. However, the fact still remains that there were not enough talents that would match up to the performance that was required by the team from them, especially in ODIs, or that they would come in parts too far and between.

If oppositions comes with only a single motto, “Get Sachin, get India”, you can imagine how unbalanced the team was. Ask all the remotes which would get thrown away (after duly switching off the TV) the moment he would lose his wicket. Inspite of his sheer genius, much of his celebrated knocks could not prevent him from being in the losing side. That could be argued as the only fault in his otherwise flawless batting displays, if you like calling it that way. No wonder it eluded him for 20 years before he finally lifted his first World Cup trophy in 2011. (All those losing contributions and references as a cricketer brings him down to level of humans, a species with much redundant abilities).

There are many heroes that inspire an entire generation following them to sweat their way up the ladder of success to fulfill their dreams. For Sachin, it was the World Cup winning underdogs of the 1983, with a local hero too in Sunil Gavaskar. And now, thankfully, the generation Z that saw their pulses go up and down every time Sachin took to the field as a lone ranger, has took into their hands the charge of the team and turned it into a professional powerhouse. With all the Dhonis and Yuvis and Ashwins, the current lot of team India is indeed a force to reckon with. And among them is our pièce de résistance, Virat Kohli. His rise from a teen World champion to the captain of the team in the hardest format of the game to his surreal achievements in the shorter formats of the game and that too in such a young age shows how much dedication he has put into his game.

If Sachin had cricket in his heart, Virat has the same heart in his mouth. The raw energy that he resonates is capable of penetrating your skin. He has the ability to raise his game to the situation. In between all that balance shift of cricket as a batsman’s game in which he himself lives, and with the brutal exuberance that he himself lives in the ground, his batting is still the basic old-schooled, something that you may call the coach’s favorite approach. But what keeps him apart is that one thing that evaded Sachin in most of his solo efforts, the taste of victory. It was that final few steps that Sachin sometimes would dare to leave for his team members to take through that would ultimately result in the undoing of everything that he did to reach there.

Kohli also had sometimes found himself in similar situations, but he was quick to learn from them. The “God of Run Chases” is scripting his own history for that matter, only trying to break away from the shadow of his great predecessor. He has worked all the way to make his wicket priceless for the opponents. He truly is an unprecedented phenomena.

When we sit around trying to satisfy our innate desire to match up heavyweights, comparing Sachin and Kohli, what we might miss around is the absolute charisma of the two exquisite personalities. Intrinsically, the motif of our fantasy lies deep in our love for the game. The Sachin that we see in Kohli is the belief that there is always a chance for us to win as long as he’s out there. The assurance that we don’t need to touch the remote for long. And that blissful belief they transpire is what makes us nostalgic.

Once my teacher asked us to tell who our favorite (cricket) player was. I answered Mike Hussey. My teacher glared at me, I sensed what was he expecting and replied, “You asked for a player, hence not Sachin.”