They say, ‘one thing about them tables… they always turn.’ And, that’s what happened, this time it was Australia all over India. One boundary after another. The Indian skipper Virat Kohli raced after one such ball and in the attempt to save a run, he dived and landed on his shoulder.
He saved the run, and that could be Kohli’s balm for the pain he suffered. He can keep telling himself that every run matters and it was okay to give it his all, never mind the pain. But, we all knew he was in severe discomfort when he had his palm placed on his right shoulder.
There will always be a debate about this. Was the risk he took worth? “He shouldn’t have dived at it so hard, now his absence will hurt the team.” But, I’m with those who said, “For a man with an intent like Kohli’s, that dive was something he would totally go for.”
He sat, and he called for help and eventually walked off. And, in that moment, along with every Indian cricket fan, my heart sank. I knew that he would have stayed and relented the decision to walk off if it wasn’t serious. But there he was, walking towards the dressing room with the team’s physiotherapist. But there’s hope, and there’s Virat Kohli- two words you can use in the same line, always.
Despite the very vivid picture of the seriousness of the situation, the impracticality in half of the cricket fans across the nation was waiting to be heard. He’s a fighter. And, he wouldn’t let the opportunity go unharmed so easily. He knows he has to perform, as captain and as batsmen. And he would try.
He has not worked on his fitness for no reason. Had it been any other player, the news of the player being sent back home would be certain. And it has happened on various instances. Injuries have haunted Team India for a long time. But, I believe his fitness level has a role in this.
The cloud of uncertainty hung over Virat too. There were very believable reports in the media that he had a shoulder tear and has been ruled out of the Ranchi Test, that he would be out of the game for a week or two. An agony swept across the cricket-crazy nation once again. One of the main reasons was having Ajinkya Rahane, a conservative captain against an extremely aggressive opposition, who was asked to captain when he least expected it.
“THE SERIES IS GONE.”
“Ab toh haar gaye series.”
“Virat ka record bohot kharab hogaya, yaar.”
Just as we started to contemplate whether we should stick to watching India v Australia for the next day or try Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, the BCCI put all speculations to rest as they announced that the captain is recuperating from the shoulder strain and investigations have revealed that there are no serious concerns.
Our prayers were answered, literally. And we were back at it, deciding what tactics India should be using against Australia on Day 2. I realized how a minor injury to India’s best man could put the nation into a tizzy, how Australia must have felt a sigh of relief for a few hours and gasped again, and how cricket suddenly seems difficult without Kohli, and how we were all collectively hurt each time we saw Virat with the ice pack in the dressing room.
This match holds more importance than you would expect not just because the winner takes the lead in the series but also because this match was an opportunity for every player who hadn’t impressed this series to perform this time. The stage was set for that.
The pitch had rubbished every rumour about itself as it turned out to be a really good batting wicket to start with. India was to perform at Ranchi as they stepped in after one of their best matches in cricket history at Bangalore. The bottom line remained not to impulsively believe what we’re told, and that hope is not dead when it’s an issue concerning Virat.
However, on a serious note, Virat is one of those players who has had a terrible series with the bat (and, DRS) and he would have wished to conquer. He will still believe he can and as we know him if he did it for RCB with stitches on his webbing in the IPL. He can do it for India. The King will conquer. Or, so the fan in me hopes.