The Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, without any doubt, is one of the greats of the game. His ' ten thousand and counting' runs in the Tests and ODIs speak volumes about the command and the authority he has on the various formats of the game. At a frantic pace he has come close to the legendary Tendulkar. Like the latter, Kohli has huge fan following across the borders. His appetite for raising mountain of runs shows no signs of fatigue as he celebrates his 30th birth anniversary. But his hunt for the leather in the field , which is loved and appreciated by many, is cocktailed with the fury of his intolerance towards criticism– the chronic problem he is afflicted with. He wants that love should be patented in his name only. And those who do not commit in wholesome praise for Indian batsmen should be condemned for indulging in extra-territorial loyalty.
Last week Kohli launched the Virat Kohli official App on his birth day. Among his millions of Twitter followers, Instagram fans and Facebook friends, a fan from India confessed his preference for English and Australian cricketers instead of Kohli's blue brigade. ' He is an overrated batsmen. Nothing seems special in his bating. I enjoy watching English and Australian batsmen more than these Indians' Kohli's fan wrote. Kohli did not stomach the tribute. From embankments of patience, a deluge of tempest broke out : ' I don't think you should live in India. Go and live somewhere else. Why are you living in one country and loving other countries. I don't mind you not liking me. I don't think you should live in our country and like other things. Get your priorities right'.
From the above it implies that Kohli thinks he is not only the captain of Indian cricket team but also the custodian of the National Register of Citizens of India. In him is also vested the prerogative of giving and distributing the certificates of nationality and patriotism. Holding in preference cricketers of some other nations to Kohli's Men in Blue is, to him, akin to committing a crime, unpardonable and punishable to forced exile. Even if the 'guilty' has contributed in making India great in services more precious than willow and leather. Whether cricket or any other game, sports have only entertainment value. It grips you in its own mania. But after a few hours as we regain our own, we realize neither Kohli has won Lahore and ate lunch in Gymkhana , nor Afreedi has raised green flag on the ramparts of Lal Qila( red fort) Delhi. After all, what has this etheric excitement, bordering at times on hysteria, to do with citizenship. Take it in spirit of sportsmanship, sans borders.
In other countries, including Pakistan, Indian players– like Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Dhoni, Dravid , Kohli himself – have their admirers in large number. But players of these countries, like Javid Miniadad, Brian Lara, Murlidharan, Shane Warne, Hashim Amla, have never expressed their displeasure on peoples' right to love and admire their cricket stars of an alien country, much less serve notices to quit the country they live in. These players—who have contributed much to the game and brought laurels to their respective countries, never asked their fans, nor desired, to mortgage their preferences against their name. From the scales of loyalty definition, as prescribed by His Majesty Kohli, these very fans too are committing treason against their own country of birth. They too should be asked to pack up and leave. We have not to forget that emotions are not produce of the soil, but of the soul. It can be hitched where one derives pleasure and satisfaction. May be one gets fawned on Kohli's superb on-drive or square cut, but his antics of hubris comes as an eraser against his grand achievements. Against this, Dhoni may not be of his measure in stroke play, but his cool compose and majestic temperament—in and outside the field—wins him hearts and minds. So preferences change from person to person, stroke to stroke, ball to ball and to mental hygiene. You cannot hide your ugly behind heap of runs.
The problem with Kohli is that he is narcissist in behavior. Other than his own he does not like and acknowledge any other symbol cricket loving people should hold in love and reverence. Loving him is a pre-condition for claiming right to Indian domicile. And those not doing this should leave, he ordains. It means not the spirit of the game we become infatuated with. It is monster of nationalism that fastens us in its bind. And this goes all against the elegance and glory of the ' gentleman's game', in fact any sports.
That by now he has not expressed remorse, much less tendering apology to the cricket lovers, in particular to the fan who did not give him much credit in comparison to other players of England and Australia, reflects he is full of himself and is insulated against any thing moral. That kind of language does not suit sports people, more so the players of his mark and stature. But at a time when demon of hyper nationality in his country has constricted the space for dissent, this kind of machismo should not surprise us. You might have heard, recently BJP Maharashtra spokesperson, Avadhuth Wagh, called PM Modi the 11th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Perhaps Virat Kohli in his own rights thinks he too is entitled to be hailed as the Bhagwan of cricket. In fact he has already worn the halo of 'sainthood' around his forehead. And looks for heads in supplication. For this soil to exhale Bhagwans is not that difficult. A sneeze is enough.