Why does Virat Kohli turn Pakistan so green?

Published: May 30, 2016
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'Virat Kohli most popular among Pakistan Women cricketers' Photo: Getty Images

Whether it’s a tickle past fine leg or a glorious drive through the covers, the man has it all—and everything in between. Years of struggle, an unyielding passion, supreme talent and hard work have made Virat Kohli the cricketing tour de force that he is.

Yet, every time he strides onto the pitch and takes guard, a nation of over 200 million people turns whichever shade of pale or red they possibly can. Those on the yellower side fear the onslaught, while viewers with blood rushing to their faces are wishing the Indian maestro nothing short of death. Such is the impact he has on Pakistanis; no matter where they live.

The 2016 T20 World Cup clash between cricket’s ultimate arch rivals was a stark reminder of Kohliphobia as many pairs of folded hands prayed for his dismissal.

Will it be Virat Kohli or Shahid Afridi who shines for their team in this colossal India vs Pakistan Asia Cup T20 match?
Photo: Reuters

As most batsmen would, he took a look around to get a visual idea of the gaps in the field, but that is where similarities ended between mere mortals and Virat Kohli. After a few sighting deliveries, he was penetrating all those gaps with consummate ease and the bowling attack, no matter how capable, was being torn apart. The ball was sometimes just tapped to the boundary as fielders gave futile chase.

As Kohli raised his bat to take in the adoration of the crowd for yet another fifty, Pakistani players and fans turned green with an envy that matched the colour of their shirts.

Virat Kohli blows a kiss to the crowd after crossing 6000 ODI runs India v Sri Lanka 3rd ODI Hyderabad November 9 2014
Photo: BCCI

Switching off the television at the end of the match, the more analytical of the lot throw their heads back to think of what could have been. As the day’s play replayed in their heads, a moment of eureka occurred for some and they realised that this misplaced hatred was actually reverence.

Time to your raise your bat again Virat Kohli, you turned your biggest detractors into fans; many just didn’t know it at the time.

As a Pakistani who has cried over lost cricket matches, and a broken Ihsan “The Khan” bat from my childhood, I hoped Kohli would either spontaneously combust or get wrapped on the crown jewels by a whizzing delivery from one of our “formidable” quickies.

Avoiding all ill wishes from across the border, he raced on. Cutting, driving, hooking—yes the latter is a shot and not a profession even if the person is Indian.

Virat Kohli scored his second century of the Test to become only the second skipper to have made hundreds in both innings of a captaincy debut. Kohli joined Greg Chappell — 123, 109 n.o. vs West Indies at Brisbane.
Photo: AP

But therein lies the beauty of a batsman who our cricketers, and perhaps the nation itself, need to learn from rather than envy.

Here is a man who puts a value on his wicket. When he strides out, Kohli knows that this is an important scalp at the crease.

In order to represent a nation, an individual needs to value her or himself and their presence in the field of play. Every time India’s new maestro swings the bat, he does so with incredible skill, but more importantly, ultimate responsibility.

Can we say the same for any of our willow smiths? The wealth of our talent lies with batsmen such as Umar Akmal and the Kohli wannabe called Ahmed Shehzad. There is no doubt that both these men have talent, but their last 10 dismissals when wearing green amply demonstrate that the upcoming selfie takes precedence over a Pakistan win. The only man who seems like he may want to stick around for more than a delivery or three is wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Kohli can be described in a one-worded sentence; perfection. Similarly, as can our entire battling line-up; albeit with a slightly different word; callousness.

Virat Kohli bows down in front of the stand where Sachin Tendulkar was seated.
Photo: AP

All Pakistani cricket buffs were secretly disappointed with themselves for disliking the great Sachin Tendulkar without acknowledging any of his achievements or appreciating the immense talent. Here’s a chance to right that wrong. Appreciate the history that is in the making; you may thank yourself for it one day.

Fahhd Husain

Fahhd Husain

A sub-editor at the Peshawar Desk of The Express Tribune. He tweets at @fahhdhusain (twitter.com/fahhdhusain)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Rajagopal

    Thank you sharing the wonderful sentiments. Much appreciated.Recommend

  • Rohan

    I guess that’s what most Pakistanis are ‘wish for some Indians death’, pathetic hateful losersRecommend

  • Lalit

    wow….that was an amazing article and shall i add at par with reverence of Mr Umar Daraz.Kohli no doubt deserves it,as did Ws of Pak crickets of yesteryears.Recommend

  • Shashi Dharan

    Appreciating talent irrespective of nation is the right approach for great sports… Kudos.Recommend

  • Nilanjan Banerjee

    Looks like Kohli brilliance is crossing boundaries -:)Recommend

  • Adil

    I completely and in the strongest terms disagree with this post. I am a Pakistani and I love to watch him play. It’s topnotch cricket that can be witnessed when he’s playing, regardless of the country he comes from.

    Yes, there might be those who are jealous of him. But a large number of Pakistanis admire him (and I know a number of those). This article unfortunately falls prey to gross generalisation.Recommend

  • Adil

    No we don’t. For a change, open up your eyes and interact with people across the border. The easiest thing for an ignorant mind is to generalise and stereotype. Come out of it. A majority of Pakistanis DO NOT hate Indians.Recommend

  • Safee

    You can’t speak for all Pakistani’s, Allah na karay he is a great player and no offense to my countrymen, I not only repect him as a player but also support india because of him even if he plays against our side, simply because they look like they have done their homework, while lala saab is just there for his usual shenanigans.Recommend

  • Rohan

    I have.Most Pakistanis still link their patriotism to hating India thanks to their history textbooks and terror sponsoring armyRecommend

  • 19640909rk .

    stop giving comments like “Green with envy”. In the seventies and eighties, Pakistan dominated India and it is India’s moment in the sun now. Who knows, Pakistan may make a comeback soon and tables can turn.Recommend

  • Adil

    Generalisation again. Says enough about you :)Recommend

  • Zishfaq

    Spot on mate! Generalizing/Stereotyping is bad… I love V. Kohli because he is the symbol of excellence beside being Indian. Also i do like Indians are general, have met a few in life & most of them are very warm and good ppl……Of course some just succumb to the traditional hate but most are good.Recommend

  • luuuuke

    Virat just like Sachin is a once in a lifetime player…..Enjoy his brilliance without prejudice until it lasts….I can understand Pakistan’s hatred towards Virat…It’s like I hate Messi since I’m a Real fan but even I know that he’s the best player in the world bar none….Use the same analogy for Kohli and Pakistan……..Recommend

  • Rohan

    You are not helping my case eitherRecommend

  • Syed Muhammad Antiq

    While IPL was going on. I was happen to be out at a Tobacco shop where a mob of people had gathered infront of the TV set. I had not been following IPL. I asked one of they boys “What the heck is going on? what these so many men are watching so eagerly?” I was literally apalled at that boy’s response when he said “Kohli 98 par khel raha hai”Recommend

  • Syed Muhammad Antiq

    While IPL was going on. I was happen to be out at a Tobacco shop where a mob of people had gathered infront of the TV set. I had not been following IPL. I asked one of they boys “What the heck is going on? what these so many men are watching so eagerly?” I was literally apalled at that boy’s response when he said “Kohli 98 par khel raha hai”Recommend

  • http://sporteology.com/ Sporteolgy

    Virat Kohli one of the best indian cricketer and i like hin. i am a Pakistani and like Pakistan cricket team but also like Virat because when he come to the ground also he perform better ….. I Love Virat Thanks for Sharing this post and also you can see Virat Kohli Images here..
    http://www.viratkohli.website/virat-kohli-images-download/Recommend

  • Sachin pardeshi

    Without sachin I can’t imagine any cricket matchRecommend