Something special is blowing across Indian cricket. In some ways, it’s a reminder of the 1990s, when Sachin Tendulkar owned the television remote. While Virat Kohli has similar emotional effects on the fans, one difference stands out — his composure. Tendulkar bore far greater pressure, in a cricketing nation finding its backbone. He was the middle-class Marathi boy who grew up with the tag of genius. There was much to handle, and to his credit he did. But, unsurprisingly, the pressure showed.
Kohli is different in the way he came up in Indian cricket. As soon as he won the Under-19 World Cup, he was cast as the boy who couldn’t handle success. He couldn’t get going on his Test debut and had to be dropped. He was a good batsman but he had the swagger of a genius. But in the end, ambition won out and suddenly, things changed. Rather, he changed them. He grew more disciplined, became fitter, turned more professional. A good batsman has willed himself to be a great batsman (in limited-overs cricket), who soaks in the harshest of pressures with more finesse than most other Indian cricketers. For someone with a feisty temperament, he retains a control seldom seen in Indian cricket.
Where will we place these last two breathtaking knocks? In some ways, they were like Tendulkar’s Desert Storms. As good as those knocks were — and bear in mind, they were in the longer 50-overs format. Kohli’s have come in T20s, with its shorter duration to handle pressure, which can be more intense. Moreover, they have come in a World Cup event and against two different teams on two varying tracks. The Pakistan game was a turner, the Australian one was a sluggish will-bender. Both required different skills, but Kohli came through in style.