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Debashis Sarangi ∙ Nov 5 2022, 6:00 AM

The 71st that woke up a sleeping lion


image-la3gz82rVirat Kohli [Source: Associated Press]

Humans generally shy away from adversities, and rightly so, as each of us wants a smooth-sailing life. Of course, we don't love facing problems, but can we avoid them? No, not at all. Success and struggle are two sides of a coin, which is our life, and hence are practically inexorable. 

So, if avoiding adversities is not in our capacity, we must immunise ourselves to deal with them. That immunisation involves two processes: staying motivated during hardships and eventually overcoming them through sheer effort and determination. 

Now, grind your mind and answer, what could be the biggest setback for a sportsperson? Yeah, it might be an unfortunate injury; but what's it if he is supremely fit? It's undoubtedly the repeated on-field failures that push a stalwart to the corner. 

Now imagine you are a legendary batter and a role model for millions, but suddenly, runs start to dry up, and you find yourself on the verge of exclusion. The centuries you used to score without breaking a sweat have now become a dream for you. Forget a star; what would be a person's mental state when destiny throws him into such a dark and infinite tunnel? 

I apologise for invoking you through these scary mental images, but we all are familiar with an iconic cricketer who has not only experienced these situations but also emerged triumphant over them in style. Yes, you guessed it right. It's none other than Virat Kohli, whose birthday we are celebrating today. 

Till 2019, Kohli had 70 centuries to his name. The world was on his feet as he looked all set to surpass the legendary Sachin Tendulkar's tally of a hundred international tons. But, soon, his destiny took a U-turn, and in came that forgettable New Zealand tour, kicking off an epic slump that haunted not only the talisman but also a billion of his admirers for three long years. 

Soon, the string of low scores started taking a toll on him. The media demanded his axing; the fans were frustrated, and it took no time for Kohli's 71st hundred to become a national issue. Every time he hit a glorious boundary, the Indian fans visualised him celebrating his 71st hundred, only to see it play hide and seek with them. Thus, a country of a billion and a half eventually became desperate for that one century, which Kohli badly needed to rediscover himself. 

However, when your time and luck get together, then head and tail both are yours. Similarly, Kohli's time for a redemption finally came, albeit in an unexpected occasion against an unexpected opponent. But the 71st was the need of the hour, as not only Kohli had to find his mojo before the World Cup but also the Indian fans needed something to rejoice after their team's shocking early exit from the Asia Cup 2022

Drives, short-arm jabs, slog sweeps, flicks and the Kohli special stir piercing the backward point and third man; he made sure he played all of them. The crowd went berserk and eventually took a sigh of relief, simultaneously with Kohli, who executed an unlike-Kohli celebration of the long-awaited 71st hundred with a gentle smile. 

And I am sure you are aware of its after-effects, like Kohli doing what only he could do on the biggest of the big occasions against the arch-rivals. But my primary motive for narrating these is to highlight the importance of that hundred, which not only healed the wounds of the Indian fans but also helped Kohli regain his self-confidence. 

Sometimes a persistent rough phase leads to self-doubt regardless of how unperturbed one is. And events like the 71st hundred act as a tonic at this juncture, making one realise what he is capable of. 

Have you ever seen a lion hunting its prey? Even if it isn't precisely hungry, the smell of blood is what drives the King of the jungle to go for the kill. And here, we are talking about a lion who was hungry for three years, caged by adversities and misfortune. Now, as he has smelled the blood of success, imagine how lethal he will be in the near future. 


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