IF THERE was one cricketer destined to touch the dizzying heights that Sachin Tendulkar occupied on the field, in hearts, in minds, and in statistics of the cricketing world it was always Virat Kohli. Since his entry on the scene as a junior World Cup winner to the smooth journey towards the biggest triumph of his life -- the 2011 World Cup -- Kohli was seen as heir apparent for Tendulkar. How he has realised the dream, in a manner befitting a King lording over his huge Empire. Kohli has now surpassed the Original Great by going a peak higher in accumulation of One-Day International hundreds. The 50th century he brought up in the high-octane semi-final against New Zealand to go past Tendulkar has started a new beginning for a man who was once pushed to the corner in a vile effort to force him to exit the scene. More than the milestone, it is the roaring comeback that has added more glisten to the aura around Virat Kohli. And that is a reason enough to celebrate this genius. The Kohli story, thus, has many parallels with the Tendulkar saga. In a style befitting a dedicated ward, Kohli has played the role of the disciple to bring ultimate glory to his master. In the process, he has made sure that his own personal glory becomes the celebration of both the master and the pupil.
The 50th ODI century is a much, much bigger achievement than a mere statistic that puts Kohli above Tendulkar. And what a poetic setting he was bestowed by the One Up There to bring up this special moment. Tendulkar himself in witness, a bevy of greatness in the audience in the form of Vivian Richards, Sunil Gavaskar and David Beckham, and his best partner Anushka in the stands... it was definitely a stuff of dreams in which Kohli helped delirium descend on the cricket-crazy country. In the moment, everyone became an equal part, something that generations did when they traversed the journey along with Sachin Tendulkar. The parallels are many, and may get longer. Much like Tendulkar endured a bad phase, Kohli, too, hit the same road a few seasons ago. From a bad episode of losing captaincy to a rough patch with the bat, Kohli found himself among the mental demons but as his idol overcame the ‘Endulkar’ barbs, the pupil also hacked the devil and now has written a golden script. The new king is well and truly entrenched on the throne. And the beauty is, he does not even need the tag of a captain. Again, the parallels with Tendulkar stretch on!
This World Cup has a distinct stamp of Virat Kohli all over it. He has made it his own campaign, in acute eagerness of exorcising many ghosts of the past. He is clearly on a mission to end the 12-year-long drought and fill the board with another ICC trophy. Kohli had come within touching distance of many such coveted silverware but could not cross the last hurdle. This time, the man has clearly raised the bar, making it a duty to defeat the reverses. And he has done it in style, much like Sachin Tendulkar did in 2011. It really seems like a deja vu moment. What Tendulkar offered the team after the ruins of the match-fixing saga of 1999-2000 was a strong leadership through his batsmanship. He carried the burden on his shoulders without any fuss. And he brought it to a great conclusion with the 2011 glory at Wankhede Stadium. Kohli is on a similar path, taking all the pressure off his skipper’s shoulders, marshalling the batting with his extraordinary class, and now coming in touching distance of the ultimate success in One-Day cricket. In a couple of days from now, Kohli will be in the last lap for a final dash. Can the new king conquer the final frontier? Pray for the parallels!!!