Sunday, October 1, 2023

Hard-earned birthday: how Virat Kohli made a sensational turnaround between 33 and 34

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It feels like a well-deserved birthday party for Virat Kohli, who turned 34 on November 5, 2022. Birthdays shouldn’t be hard, but it sure feels that way for one of the greatest hitters of all time.

By Kingshuk KusariBruised, beaten and battered for the past year due to his poor form, Kohli could never have imagined what life would be like between 33 and 34. was also embroiled in a fairly public, ill-run battle of words with the best honchos of Indian cricket. If the transition between 33 and 34 taught the great Virat Kohli anything, it is that nothing is permanent. Forget form, forget your status in the world cricket, even the respect you have commanded even at will will fade in the blink of an eye.

Life is like this….

It hasn’t been a turbulent year for Kohli. Let’s make that clear. At no point did Kohli’s life turn between being awesome on Day 1 and a villain on the other.

Kohli was forced to relinquish the captaincy, was asked to go on leave and was later branded ready for the Asian Cup. Without that one blow to Afghanistan, where he scored a thunderous century in the Asian Cup, he might still have been. But on the evening of September 8, all was well. Kohli had returned to his usual godlike status, he was in touch again and was one of the first names on the team sheet again.

But in between things happened.


A gasping Kohli had hinted right after his innings that things weren’t going well during that period, a time when he had left cricket for a month – for the first time in his career.

“What actually surprised me was that my 60s turned into failures, which was very shocking to me. I played pretty well and contributed, but it didn’t seem to be good enough,” Kohli said after enduring the drought of his century. broken through.

He thanked his wife Anushka Sharma for standing by his side and guiding him through his terrible form.

“…Anushka – who stood by me through these difficult times and I mentioned her because she’s seen the absolutely raw side of me all these months,” Kohli had said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Kohli’s references were to the times when many had pointed not to his lack of runs, but to the way he collected them. For critics, Kohli’s scoring points was not enough, he had to score them at a certain pace. In 2021, Kohli collected 536 runs at an average of 28.21. With his success rate low in both Indian Premier League and international cricket, critics turned to Kohli’s kind of cricket – one that had made him the best in the world. The criticism sparked outrage, which started when he was sacked after India’s knockout from the T20 World Cup.

Kohli left the captaincy, took several breaks as India began building a new, young squad, and by the time Kohli returned, the world had moved on. The talk of the town was people like Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda and Rishabh Pant who brought new energy to the national side under the new leadership of Rohit Sharma.

Kohli’s poor IPL 2022 didn’t help either, and criticism of his place in the Indian team grew louder. Those who had pleaded for his retirement amid his poor form wondered why he didn’t play on the national team more often.

“Virat should have played the games as he is just getting back into shape and a batter tends to lose the flow if he misses a few games. It would have been better if he was part of the squad for the Sri Lanka- series, because it would have prepared him for the practice matches. I’m surprised he’s rested,” Gavaskar had said.

During all this, Kohli remained mother.


JK Rowling writes in her book, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only thinks about turning on the light.” The rules are said by one of the greatest wizards of all time – Albus Dumbledore.

When Kohli fell into his darkest times, he did the most Kohli thing ever. Have it all bare. His insecurities, his struggles and his stories were out in the open. Kohli was known for keeping his personal life away from the world and coming out with his struggles with mental health and the subsequent effects it had on him.

The tiger had come out for everyone to see what he really looked like, away from the camouflage of the jungle. There was no more mystery.

And then came the turning point. The shots were timed from the center of the bat, the balls went through the hole, the shots that went straight into the hands of the fielders flew over the top.

Right now, on his birthday, Kohli is India’s biggest go-getter at the T20 World Cup, the same tournament where many had argued for a better player. Kohli took one of his greatest hits of all time against Pakistan, answering all his critics with quality innings.

And he’ll be going to sleep on November 4, possibly feeling like it may have seemed long before the birthday, but now that it’s here, it feels worth it. Kohli’s 34th may have been one of the eventful years of his life, during which Kohli has finally seen how mortals can feel. He has gone through the deepest of lows and has now seen the highest highs, and one can only imagine Kohli will continue to do great things for the foreseeable future.

World cricket will not have Kohli on the field forever, for the few years they can one can only hope to cherish the great wizard, who has gone through the deepest dungeons in search of his craft that seemed lost between the years 33 and 34.


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