Arguably the best batsman in the world today and captain of team India, Virat Kohli has a lot going his way right now. Kohli recently led India to a historic win at Johannesburg, as India showed spirit and character to emerge victorious in the third test match.
Ahead of this series, there was a lot of hype surrounding the current Indian team as many people felt that this was India’s best chance to win a series in South Africa. One of the biggest reasons for this new found optimism was the bowling attack, which duly delivered in South Africa.
Unfortunately for India, it was their batsmen that failed, as barring Virat Kohli, no one really stood up against the fearsome Proteas bowlers. Already recognized as one of the premier batsmen in world cricket, Kohli ended up as the leading run scorer in the series, and saw his stock rise up another notch.
The only centurion between both sides in the series, Kohli’s ability was on full display, as he scored one of his best centuries in an Indian shirt. Kohli’s insatiable will to win rubbed off on his team mates, and was no doubt a huge factor in his team’s success in Johannesburg.
The Indian skipper’s energy and enthusiasm is a stark contrast to MS Dhoni’s sometimes laid back approach in test matches. While Dhoni often let matches drift, Kohli always forces the issue during games.
So while there are many reasons to love and praise Virat Kohli, why are there so many people who dislike the man?
The Kohli hate club is sizable and not just a minority in the country. There is no doubt that his histrionics on the pitch rub many people the wrong way, as many do not appreciate his over exuberant celebrations during the match.
His fans call it passion, while his detractors call it arrogance. Even during the third test match, Kohli started trending on social media as people felt that he did not understand the difference between poor sportsmanship and on-field aggression.
So why he is so polarizing?
People often criticize India for idolizing cricketers, but the truth is that India as a country is always looking for heroes. A billion people select a few chosen ones, and put them on a pedestal so that they can serve as beacon of hope and inspiration to the entire nation.
Cricketers and movie stars have invariably become the icons that our politicians could not, as the eyes of the entire nation remain transfixed on these icons.
For the longest time, Sachin Tendulkar was one of those icons, as he held a special place in the hearts of Indians all over the world. After Sachin, the baton was passed on to MS Dhoni, as the Ranchi man was anointed the next national hero.
Both Sachin and Dhoni were inspirations to kids all over the country, who were also encouraged by their parents to consider the two cricketers as their role models.
Humility, respect and politeness are three qualities that every mother wants their child to imbibe, something that both cricketers have in abundance. This is one of the main reasons why parents were quite happy for their children to idolize both Sachin and Dhoni.
But what about Kohli?
Yes, the Delhi batsman shows humility and politeness in spades, but that is often punctuated with his over aggressive exertions on the cricket field. Parents want their children to learn the good in Kohli, but nobody wants their child to fight with opponents and vent out his emotions using the choicest of swear words do they?
To cite an example, India and Sri Lanka recently played a controversial test match at Delhi a few weeks back. Due to the pollution levels in the city, several Sri Lankan cricketers resorted to face masks as they tried off-handed methods to stop the match.
Kohli was furious, as he wanted to restart the match at all costs, something that did not go down too well with school teachers and parents. Their argument was that now every child in the country will want to play in the polluted environment, as the Indian captain says it is okay to do so. Is it Kohli’s fault? Not really, but many people felt that he set a bad example.
In all fairness, Kohli goes out on to the cricket field to win matches for India, and should not bother about what the country thinks of him. But unfortunately for him, he has now entered the stratosphere of Sachin and Dhoni in terms of what he represents for the nation.
The fact that Kohli is a product of a new age India, one that sports tattoos, funky hair styles and wears his emotions on his sleeve, is not lost on everyone. But there is a considerable chunk that still looks down on this modern great, and will never truly embrace him as a national hero.
Eventually it comes down to one’s personal taste, as Virat Kohli certainly polarizes the nation. While there are many who passionately cheer for him, there are others who will cringe at some of his actions on the pitch.
Time will only tell if Kohli does get embraced by the nation.