An open letter to Virat Kohli: We are with you, in victory and in defeat

An open letter to Virat Kohli: We are with you, in victory and in defeat

Whether you win or you lose, we will be with you forever.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli, Captain of India. (Photo by Harry Trump-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

Dear Virat Kohli,

You’re probably on one of your social media breaks again. But, here’s a little something for you.

My heart sank when you were tricked into playing into your weakness at the 4th stump line outside off stump again when you were almost gone, and my heart sank deeper when Shadab Khan pulled off a stunner to send you back to pavilion in the very next over. It sank when you sat there in the dressing room- dejected, disappointed and astonished at yourself more than anything else and it sank deeper to hear the change of tone in your voice in the post-match press conference.

But nothing really compares to the depth that my heart sank when I saw your pictures being burnt after the defeat last night.

You know what it is like to be governed by passion. We fans are alike. We’re governed by the passion of different kinds- some for the game, some for the team, some for the country, some for victory. You’re passionate about all of those, but not everyone is Virat Kohli.

But, do you know about those who are passionate about sheer victory? While they’d be the first ones we would go to hear from, to hear them describe the victory in their words, sometimes, defeat does something weird to people. And I’m sorry if you and the team have to bear the brunt for that.

As it is obvious that you are a fan of constructive criticism, I think not many of us fans know the line between constructive criticism and downright bashing. This was your first major tournament as captain and some mistakes were expected. I didn’t think people would make them personal and unforgivable, though, that’s what we’ve been doing for years as we saw MSD go through that for almost a decade.

While it should have been surrounded with support and encouragement from us, there were also nasty comments about you in the alleged “rift” between you and Anil Kumble. It’s sad how the aggression we’re usually fans of can often be used in comments to demean you, even without knowing the reality.

I was worried about your form in the last few months not because I expect you to be superhuman, which most of us really perceive you to be, but because I thought the newly assumed role as captain of the Indian cricket team across all formats had started to result in more than the forty grey hair you once talked about.

You did not look like yourself in the IPL, your team had the worst campaign in years, and that may have hurt but you insisted that you would take it in your stride, learn and move on.

And, you did.

My concern about you-being-very-unlike-you while batting dwindled as you remained unbeaten in three of the four matches before the final, and it was obvious in the way you batted you were still not completely yourself yet, even though the numbers you had in those three matches were incredible. And as it may have hurt to not be able to guide your team home, something that you love to do so much.

However, I admire that despite the internal chaos and constant speculation about how you cannot handle having another strong-headed in the same room as yours, the pressure to defend the title, to silencing the ‘ghosts of England’, the responsibility of doing justice to your reputation and to stand by the boys in victory and defeat, you were graceful even when a most of it did not go your way.

And, that, skipper, is what keep a lot of us sane.

You kept many including me sane over the years, be it the 133* v Sri Lanka where you took on Lasith Malinga with so much ease that I don’t think I could look at you (or, Malinga) the same way again or 183 v Pakistan as you guided the team, demolishing the mammoth 330 target in just 48 overs. Or, be it the dominance at Australia where you looked them in the eye and played them their own way.

And, the time against Pakistan when you were so magical it swept the world off its feet at Eden Gardens in WT20 2016.  Or, the 82* against Australia at Mohali that has me in tears of happiness every time I’m low. It just keeps me going, even if I feel like the world is falling apart. And, I’m certain that I’m not the only one. You’ve given us moments that we’ve found solace in when we were low, and the least we can do is stand by you, in yours.

On Sunday, we may have lost a chance to adorn our shelf with another silverware, but I don’t think that would have hurt us more than it would have hurt you, someone whose hunger for a win can not be debated. You may still have the pressure of defying many records, many preconceived notions, and so much cricket logic. But, I know you love to learn and you’re on your way.

We may have succumbed to an exceptional performance by a team “we have a history with”. But, thank you for reminding us time and again about how history and sports are largely unrelated, how to be accepting of our own mistakes, how to respect the opposition and earn it in return, and most importantly, how to take failure as a learning lesson. You’ve done it in the past and I know you will, again.

Thank you, Virat Kohli. We are with you, in victory and in defeat.

-A Virat Kohli fan