This has been a very interesting overseas series for India. The results haven’t been very different from the ones that have come before it, yet the way they have got to them has been. For starters, the team hasn’t been shamefully outplayed – there is a possibility that this series may be the one the ‘most competitive whitewashes’ that India has been part of in recent times, if that makes sense. We haven’t been ineptly bounced out of the game. There have been a couple of long sessions where the batsmen have taken the fight to the Aussies. Even the bowlers have come up with the odd decent performances where they’ve been able to restrict and control the scoring with some incisive bowling before letting the session wander away. And most noticeably, our fielding has been consistently top notch, even among the members of that not-so-exclusive slip cordon club. In both the preceding test matches, India have found themselves at least once in a position where they could have gone on to a memorable overseas victory, before squandering it away in a way that the Indian fan is very familiar with.
The other standout aspect of the series has been the ‘banter’. Virat Kohli gave this very peculiar no-holds-barred press conference yesterday after playing yet another great knock in Australia.
People predicting that the game may become a bit gentler in the aftermath of the massive tragedy that preceded the series were proved very wrong, very quickly.
Now, Virat is a naturally aggressive individual who likes to take on his opponents. In fact, he actively seeks opportunities to do so. It’s a refreshing trait for Indian cricket fans to see in one of their star players. It makes for great television every time he stands his ground and gives it back to a bowler like Johnson, or when he blows kisses to the people inside as well as outside the playing field. That’s the Kohli way and he’s God’s gift to cricket broadcasters, commentators and writers everywhere. But , as with everything, it seems to come at a price.
In the press conference I’ve linked above, a visibly agitated Kohli says that the banter doesn’t affect his batting, but then goes on to contradict himself by saying that he made a conscious effort to ‘back up the talk’. Bowlers the world over have already figured out that it is very easy to break his concentration by getting under his skin, even if it may not always work out in their favour. But hey, they’ll say, it’s definitely worth a try when things aren’t going your way. As one of the best batting talents of his generation, Kohli needs to think about whether there will come a day ten years in the future, when he will look back and wonder if he could have scaled higher peaks, if he wouldn’t have let these things bother him. For the sake of Indian cricket and his numerous fans who have already been witness to some scintillating Kohli innings, let’s hope that question never needs to be brought up.