AB de Villiers : The Howard Roark of Cricketing Fraternity

And then he laughed.

Howard Roark, the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s famous novel The Fountainhead, is a brilliant architect of the modern school, whose bold and innovative designs are a matter of fascination for the larger segments of society; draws uncanny resemblances with AB DeVilliers in many ways.

Just like Roark, ABD is fiercely independent and believes in the merit of his revolutionary designs and has the courage to stand for them in the face of an antagonistic society.His 360 degrees sweeps are no less than the Enright House. The impossible !

He is a brilliant thinker and he acts on his thinking. He is true to his values, to his convictions, to his thinking, to his mind, to his self; exactly the way ABD rose to the occasion while playing a gritty match-saving 220 balls-33 runs knock against Australia. Public opinions do not matter to him. He only believes in staying loyal and challenging himself.

Roark is fully committed to the individualistic approach in each of of his designs, and he takes a laborer’s job in a granite quarry rather than compromising on his work. ABD on such lines, once being too carried away in the glitterati of the perks of this cricketing life promised himself to believe in himself and give every inch of his body to this holy game. He has not looked back ever since then. He has not changed his attacking stroke-play, even being fairly criticized at times and is a proud holder of feats such as the fastest 100 & 150 runs in the limited overs format.

You either succumb to his enigmatic charms or call him a technically flawed, over-rated and overly loved player but the former has been the case pretty much. I guess you ought to watch a game in Chinnaswamy to know his cult following. After Sachin and Kohli, he’s the most loved sport star in India. He never craved for any such prestige but his potential to hit such sky-scraping sixes and the agility to induce such vivacity on the field, makes him the winner; exactly how Roark used to do the magic via his drafting sheets.

Roark is undeterred. He’ll design anything from sky-kissing elevations to hotels to temples to gas stations, so long as he can build in his own way. So is ABD.Be it IPL, the Titans -his provincial club, his national team or the street cricket, he gives his 200% in everything and tries to execute a different game plan, with different stroke-play, just to keep himself going. He’s not afraid to experiment, backs himself and delivers. His drafts his excelling stories with his bat.

Howard was a visionary from his initial days and wanted to stay ahead of his time. So like ABD, the way he went on to represent the Proteas and then owning the game with his sheer class,is something astonishing.

Howard Roark and AB DeVilliers represent to me – Ethical Integrity. It’s just a matter of one World Cup trophy , when ABD gifts himself the Wynand Tower, the last, the tallest and the biggest skyscraper of his career and fades in the overlying success of eternal joy and glory.

Kohli always pays his debts !

Virat Kohli thrives on challenges and responsibilities. Unlike a normal human, it’s the adverse situations which bring out the beast in him. Kohli’s ability to lift the bar in the time of need sets him apart from his contemporaries. He’s not one of those who would let things go that easily. If he is being mocked or taken on mentally, he’ll make sure he gives it back. So Tyrion Lannister like, he prefers to pay his debts.  And, this time Englishmen were on the receiving end.

On the last English tour, Anderson and company flirted with Kohli’s reputation as a batsman. They made sure he had a miserable tour and dented his prestige by labeling him a mediocre player who’s just been hyped by the Indian media. But, there were some scores to be settled as Kohli never forgets.

Interestingly in the current series, when Anderson, the so non-sportsman took on Kohli with his maladroit comment stating that the home tracks are hiding his flaws, Kohli didn’t stoop low on his standards, didn’t utter a single word and let the scoreboard do the talking as Anderson stood humiliated & helpless when Ashwin ripped apart the English egos today morning to clinch the series 3-0.

Citing another instance, the last time India was at Wankhede, Kohli promised Sachin that it’s time for the young guns to carry the legacy forward as he had already done enough. Kohli stood by his words and instilled a sense of freedom and faith in his team. It not only made everyone up their game but as a collective unit rose India to the numero uno ranking. And, when today India took the victory walk across the Mecca of Indian Cricket, a sense of pride was evident on his face; which said it all.

2016 has been phenomenal for the Indian skipper. Kohli has 5 consecutive Test series win on his name in this calendar year, which is the record for any Indian captain. Also, Virat is just win away from breaking Sunil Gavaskar’s continuous unbeaten streak of 18 games. Most likely, if Cyclone doesn’t interrupt, this feat would be achieved in the Chennai, Ashwin’s home turf. The kind of form Ashwin is in, it’d be fascinating to see how easily he penetrates the British defence.

Virat is someone who knows how to manoeuvre his instincts, depending on the format. Kohli has grown in stature big time. Previously, he had a total of zero double centuries in Tests and no IPL T20 century. By the year end, he has 3 double test tons and 4 daddy centuries in the IPL. He is not someone who is known for his big hitting. He worked on that part and you would be astonished to know that those 4 IPL tons consisted of 24 mammoth sixes whereas these 3 double centuries had just 1 six. This is the level of adaptability he brings into the game.

Kohli is someone who plays from the heart. Just like a well-cooked Hyderabadi Dum Biryani, Kohli takes some time to settle, lives beneath the sheath of aggression and temperament, takes the heat from the charcoal, absorbs the conditions and then shows his aromatic classKohli is well aware of his strengths and limitations and plays accordingly His flicks and cover drives are his rice and tender meat pieces and the elaichis – reverse sweeps are kept out of the vessel.

As an ardent Virat fan, I can eat this Biryani every day!

The best part – he keeps his integrity on his sleeves and gives ample importance to his fitness. He’s been the path bearer for everyone. He is an infection to the squad and is solely responsible for bringing out the aggression in everyone. Looking at the current fielding standards you cannot even say that it’s the same team, who were once the sloppiest of all.

Coming back to paying the debts part; needless to say the way Ben Stokes was sent off in the third Test of the series, I bet anyone would think twice before messing with Kohli and his team. The mum face was a slap on the English autocracy.

Initially, Virat lacked consistency in the longer format and was considered as the weakest among the Fab-4. Kohli, the gladiator took the daunting ask on his head. Slogged hard and at the moment, Kohli averages 50+ in all formats and is being lauded as one of the all-time greats to have ever graced the game.

I’d say, Kohli is beyond records. He is a pinnacle of assurance and self-belief. We need to find new critics for him as the ones who used to find flaws in the loud mouth have started to idolize the champ, including the likes of Chappell brothers and the entire Aussie cricketing fraternity.

Kohli’s unparalleled swag is bringing back the crowd to the stadiums, He is the perfect ambassador of the game one could ever ask for. I just pray he keeps playing with this level of consistency and achieves everything an Indian Cricket fan could ask for.

Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo !

Success is catastrophic, it boosts your ego. Failure is the one that keeps you going.
In fact, the greatest people to have ever lived; have attained their success just one step beyond their greatest failure. Failures are not to be buried, in fact one must seek inspiration from them. And that’s exactly what Virat Kohli has done post his worst ever tour to England.

Brash, arrogant, upfront, cocky, bewildered – these were some of the attributes linked to Virat Kohli before his 2014 English tour. His aggression on the field and readiness to confront made him the man to watch out in particular in that series.To the contrary, there wasn’t anything worth remembering which he did on that tour.Actually, you could say it was dismal and was the leanest patch in his career.

He wasn’t reading the ball at all and had severe technical glitches in his game. Someone who could whip the ball outside the off-stump towards mid-wicket, was struggling with his off- stump. He was perishing to the swing and had no clue where his off-stump lay. He was completely taken off- guard with the English tactics and the fourth stump line stumped him mentally.

This was an excruciating phase he was keen on performing in the English conditions, a place which offers bowlers and batters a competitive platform to test their skills mentally and physically. Virat had failed miserably and not only did it hurt him immensely but his fans too.

Virat’s body language on that tour lacked lustre. He looked uncertain and his scores in ten innings read dismaying 1,8,25,0,39,28,0,7,6 and 20. He, alongside his fanatics were brought down to earth firmly and the King’s reputation was dented badly. The much anticipated and talked about The Virat Kohli had failed where it had really mattered for him to excel. He had fluttered on the English soils, which are supposed to be the litmus test for any player to be acclaimed amongst the greats and Virat had lost that chance.

He struggled to decide which ball to play and which one to leave. The positivity, confidence and assertiveness was lacking in his demeanour. It was a timid posture that he presented, unsure of his technique and quitting against the building hype and pressure.

Even I, as fan; could not fathom the sudden slump in his form and luck. It was a shocker. Whatever he did on that tour, was a bigger blunder than the former. All I can say is that it was a phase that needed to be forgotten by him and his fans and yes,the boss did overcome that feat in his own style.

Post the tour, he worked on his shortcomings – fitness,regime, focus and most importantly the sheer inability to not put a price on his wicket. 

He fought his way back to bury the dead and created new milestones game after game. He made four gritty tons in Australia post that tour and did bring significant accolades after taking over the captaincy from Mahendra Singh Dhoni. With maturity and hardwork in his first ever Test series as a skipper, he became the fourth Indian to score a hundred on captaincy debut after Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Vijay Hazare as he hammered the Kangaroos at Adelaide.

By making another century in the second innings of the same match, he also became the only second player in Test chronicles to score hundreds in both innings of a Test on captaincy debut after Greg Chappell.

After that, there was no looking back.

In his next assignment in Sri Lanka, King Kohli showed his magical touch and flamboyance not only in his batting but leadership too. He became the first Indian captain to win an away series, after losing the first Test. With the achievement, he also became the youngest Indian captain to have won a Test series outside India.

Virat maintained the same consistency in his game from that tour to beating South Africa 3-0 and white-washing the kiwis at home. There’s nothing stopping this beast now.

Well, I am so glad that the failure occurred early in his career and it did prove a blessing in disguise.

Virat now looks to be on a different note all together. He is in the form of his life, creating symphonies in every match. He is much more focused and has dealt with temperamental issues in a way, you cannot even imagine. He is a wolf-pack who believes in marshalling his troops from the front. He kills aggression with his bat,not with words and is the perfect role model team India needs.

He has evolved from being a brat to becoming the ambassador of the game. He is an inspiration for billions. The best part – he has become a lot more patient, respectful of the opposition and has learnt it the hard way as how to wait for the ball. He is not committing to play the early ball anymore and that has happened due to better coordination in his footwork, balance and head positioning.

Also, he has minimised playing any sweeps and cuts, the shots which he wasn’t even trained on purpose from his childhood days. In an age defined by flashy stroke plays, he is sticking to his grit and core values. He fancies playing the flicks, cover drives and loves being conventional without playing the ball in the air.

Honestly, I have never seen a player as dedicated as Virat. After his failure, not only did he work on his mental fitness but physical agility too. He was won so many games for India just by his running abilities. Can you believe that ? He runs with the same intensity in Whites as he does in Blues.

Virat is too good a player to repeat the mistakes. He doesn’t go after the bowler’s reputation now and believes in living every ball. He understands the context of the game really well and realises how crucial his wicket is to the opposition. The very fact that he knows the bounty on his wicket, yet never allows the pressure to surmount on his head, makes him as the world’s best modern day batsman.

If Virat can overcome his failures, so could you! Let’s treat him as an example to help us outgrow ourselves. Stay Kohlified !

References – Driven.

Why is Virat Kohli the Jesse Pinkman of Cricket?

Watching Breaking Bad is so much fun on various levels, especially if you are a cricket fan. The way Jesse Pinkman has become an epitome of awesomeness over a period of time, Virat on the similar lines is a household name in the Indian cricket. His batting is equally delightful as Aaron’s acting.

Here are 7 reasons why Virat Kohli is the Jesse Pinkman of Cricket –

1.Style-Quotient
He has a style which completely resonates with his ‘I-don’t-care-if-you-like-me-or-not’ personality, completely resembling Jesse’s persona. Not to forget, his batting is equally classy as Jesse’s one-liners. BITCH!

2.Evolution
Jesse’s product was not up to the mark initially. The meth-crystals were only 95% pure but gradually he mastered his skillset. In a similar fashion, Virat eventually worked on his game to become the most consistent batsman of his era.

3.Highly Emotional
Virat is a man of principles and loses his calm if someone fiddles with them. He is brutally honest and keeps the emotions on his sleeve. He tends to get over emotional and attached to people he cares about exactly how Jesse was for Walter, Jane and Andrea’s son.

4.Takes Pride
His game overwrites any damn thing in this world in terms of priority. He takes pride in playing the sport and always gives his best no matter what it takes. Remember when India failed to qualify for the playoffs in the in 2012 World T20,he was into tears. On the other hand, he celebrates in a grand manner as well whenever India achieves something significant. Rewind your brain cells to the Champions Trophy 2013 final. Jesse too loves what he does.

Virat -Jesse

Yeah Science !

5.Has seen life
Virat, in a very young age has seen all the phases of his life. Lost his father when he was in his teens, toiled hard, backed his strengths, got a celebrity girlfriend, defended her thoroughly when she was blamed for India’s loss in the 2015 World Cup semifinal and now is the proud captain of the Indian National Team.

On the same lines, Jesse moved out of his parents’ house due to drug related issues ,stayed alone, went into deep shit, found a good mentor ,started working hard, went into a real relationship, lost her, moved on , earned a wealthy sum and survived liked a boss !

6. Street Smart
Raised in the middle-class household in Delhi, Kohli has been a street smart person right from the start. He knows how to tackle situations on the fly and shows creative exuberance in dealing with various on-field scenarios just like Jesse. I still remember Jesse’s brilliant plan to use magnets to destroy the incriminating evidence on the defunct meth distributor Gustavo’s laptop that had been locked away at police headquarters. Virat too did destroy Australia with his running, many a times.

7.Breaks Bad
Kohli is not afraid to take risks, challenge the stereotype mindset. He is honest, bold, brash and confident about his game. He is a rebel and the future of Indian Cricket. Gone are those days when Indians used to get sledged. He is not a monk and believes in fighting aggression with aggression, exactly the way Jesse does. He is harmless till someone does not invade his territory.

Yeah, that’s totally Kafkaesque !

Cricket-Gear: That’s how they roll

The world cup fever has certainly taken a toll on my life these days. I literally see our Indian cricket team everywhere, be it on my desktop, the cover picture on Facebook, the graffiti on my work space wall or even on the roads.You won’t believe me, every time I see a Volkswagen Polo passing by; I shout out loud “Hey Bhuvi ! Practice pe dhyaan de, yahaan kya kar raha hai (Practice dude! Don’t fool around)?”

“The car we drive says a lot about us” – Alexandra Paul

Here’s my analogy of the Indian players and their equivalent Indian car models I see on the roads :

Shikhar Dhawan – Tata Safari
It’s sturdy, brutal and powerful. When it’s on a song, the journey looks beautiful.
Exactly the way India never looses when Dhawan plays big and hits a century.
The rowdy Dhawan

Rohit Sharma – Chevrolet Cruze
It’s over hyped. The only reason it sells is because of Chevrolet’s three years’ service warranty policy.The same holds true for Mr. Sharma. The hero scores a double ton and cements his berth for the next three years. Highly inconsistent with a below par mileage but still people buy it based on Chevrolet’s reputation, calling it a talented car.The talented Rohit

Bhuvneshwar Kumar – Volkswagen Polo
Polo is simple, effective, and economical. At the same time it’s a highly engineered product just like Bhuvi’s swinging deliveries.The Engineered Bowler

Ravichandran Ashwin: Reva (Mahindra) e2O.
The only certified electric car in India, exactly on the lines of Ashwin being the only quality off break bowler present in India. Highly environment friendly on Indian tracks.The unique spinner

Ajinkya Rahane: Mahindra Thar
Consistent and highly reliable on all the possible terrains be it a desert, hill or a city ride.
The most complete and versatile Indian car at the moment just like Ajinkya’s technique.
The complete man

Sir Ravindra Jadeja: Nissan Sunny
Jack of all trades master of none. Doesn’t stand a chance in terms of quality against the big names.Everything is average be it engine or interiors exactly resembling Jaddu’s batting and bowling.The looks is the deception point just like Sirjee’s exceptional fielding skills.
The Sirjee factor
Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Maruti Swift
It is the common man’s hero and effortlessly reaches the masses. Very low on maintenance and highly dependable. It gives you a non-bumpy, confident ride even on the roads less traveled.
Match winner -Dhoni

Umesh Yadav: Honda CRV
It has got speed and power but highly expensive. Very difficult to maintain and overshoots your economic budget, the way Yadav leaks a boundary on the legs in every over.
The expensive one

Suresh Raina: Toyota Innova
Always takes the team along. It has got a great pickup ability exactly what Raina does
to the scoring rate once he arrives. It is selfless as has even taken the tag of a taxi in the
process of taking the team along. It’s a highly reliable car especially in the mid of chasing long milestones.
The team man

Mohammed Shami: Hyundai i20- Elite
New in the market and has shown record breaking results. It is the car of the year just like
Shami has been the pick of the lot amongst the leading wicket takers this year. I20 Elite has got all the features old and some new, like Shami possesses with the old ball and the new. The best part is, no one actually minds it being expensive.
Leading bowler of the year

Virat Kohli: Jaguar XF
Class Apart.
Class apart
PS: Now, don’t go out and start calling a hummer as ABD. DON’T!
(Fueled by Dhruv Chikara)

Ajinkya Madhukar Rahane : The Pursuit Of Versatility

As the name suggests,”Ajinkya” which means invincible;this Marathi boy is an insightful talent when it boils down to discipline and professionalism.

Calm,focused,introvert,gentleman and steady like an impregnable fortress,Rahane is an ideal Dravid prodigy. Ajinkya,with his technical eminence and stalwart demeanour has cemented his spot in the Indian line (both Tests and ODIs) with extreme delicacy.

The perfect straight drive.

The perfect straight drive.

Rohit is injured. Can you open ? YES!

Yuvraj is out of form.Can you reinforce the middle order ? YES!

The team is crumbling overseas.Can you bat at number 3 and anchor the innings? YES!

Slip cordon looks vulnerable.Can you stand at slips and pull off blinders? YES!

Team needs some buoyancy.Can you carry drinks? YES!

Within no time,the nifty right hander has evolved as the most faithful name in the Indian cricketing household and indeed Rahane is the epitome of a modern day versatile cricketer.

Epitome of versatility- Rahane

India’s current batting brigade with Rahane as the most versatile batsman

He has a subtle blend of timing ,artistry and aggression which not only has helped him flourish in the sub-continent but overseas as well,where others did struggle in the recent times.Till date I have not seen Rahane slog,exactly the way his mentor used to play.

With the mighty Australian tour lined up,his skills would come handy especially facing Mitchell Johnson. If he can shield the team from his wrath and try inspiring the team by sticking on the wicket,our young guns might turn out to be formidable.Also,Virat is sort of back in the form. Hence, I strongly believe that the duo of Rahane and Kohli have the balls to turn the tide this time. Hoping to witness a good show and #InRahaneKohliWeTrust trending in the Kangaroo land.

Rewinding a bit,Rahane incepted his vintage form from being called as The Night’s Watch for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL season 6. The boy had become a man back then.He scored 560 runs at a scintillating average of 40 from 16 games at a strike rate of
130,which included two classy knocks of 98 and 103* as well.

Tendulkar’s retirement proved a blessing in disguise for Ajinkya.He was offered a permanent berth in the Indian side at number 4.Finally,his patience paved off and that meant NO MORE BENCH for him.

Without seeking much of stardom,Rahane silently started putting some runs under his belt ,that too on the foreign soils.Right from 51* and 96 in Durban to 118 against the black caps,Rahane always kept his head high and did his job meticulously.Subsequently,his rock solid technique fetched him a ton at the Mecca of Cricket as well.That knock of 103 at Lords marked the dawn of a new phenomena – a phenomena of trust,hard work and consistency.He carried that momentum and scored a vintage ton at Birmingham in the third ODI in the same 2014 England tour.

A moment to cherish. Ton @ Lords.

A moment to cherish.Ton @ Lords.

Effortless straight drives,mighty pulls and a chip over cover are the prime ammunitions in his armoury.It’s a treat to watch him bat when he is on a song.But it is equally disheartening to see him throw his wicket after being well settled ,the way he did at
Dharamsala recently.The effort that he had putting scoring those 68 crucial runs went in vain.He certainly needs to work on that bit.

But let me tell you one thing very clearly.Whether it is Rahane ,Kohli or Pujara these lads should never be rated against the veterans.It is unfair for both the camps.Those legends belonged to a different ball game altogether.They played under different circumstances,under a different leader with a different mindset.Give them some time to explore,to struggle,to loose and to fight back.Trust me,you will eventually start looking up to them as well.

On a positive note,with the kind of form he is in both personally(just got married) & professionally,if he continues this sort of maturity for another year or so; I definitely see him steering team India to the paths of glory.