Kohli’s bow to his master, Tendulkar

Sport abounds in stories of stars acknowledging their mentors publicly but Virat surpassed them by remembering to show his affection and respect in a moment that belonged solely to him.

Virat Kohli (in picture) takes a bow at Sachin Tendulkar, who was witnessing the India-Pakistan game from the stands in Eden Gardens.   -  PTI

Virat Kohli’s humble obeisance to the cricket royalty in the galleries was an impromptu act that is bound to book a place in folklore. In that grave moment, when the world was at his feet, his mind occupied with personal pride, he chose to share the stage with the man who inspired him to follow the cricket path.

Sachin Tendulkar would carry home fond memories of this mad cricket fan of his who won the hearts of the Eden Gardens on a night when Indian cricket celebrated an emphatic triumph.

Great Win Team India!! Thank you for the innings and gesture Virat Kohli! Team India returning to the dressing room after the game, waved to me. Felt like I never left the team...

Posted by >Sachin Tendulkar on  >Saturday, March 19, 2016

What a phenomenon this Virat Kohli! He values his fan club, would never shirk from obliging them, but essentially never disregard seniors. “We played the game because of them only,” he told this reporter recently.

Sport abounds in stories of stars acknowledging their mentors publicly but Virat surpassed them by remembering to show his affection and respect in a moment that belonged solely to him.


Thoughts return to Sydney, 1999, when V. V. S. Laxman produced a batting symphony that numbed the fierce Australians into submission. He just picked boundaries as if plucking grapes from a bunch in a fruit bowl. A hundred was accomplished with rare elegance and then the gesture to one of the boxes that seated his parents. “It was the first time they were watching me at the ground,” recalled Laxman.

Read: >Kohli dedicates 50 to Tendulkar

There was another moment when Zaheer Khan was the recipient of Laxman’s wonderful gratitude. Preceding scores of 0, 42 and 15 had left Laxman despondent. Was he not supposed to score as a matter of right against the Australians? Laxman was a worried man when Zaheer, in a reversal of role, counselled him. Actually Laxman was Zaheer’s batting coach and the bowler did not stop at returning some tips with compliments.

“I remember telling him that he had nothing to prove to anyone and it was just a matter of one innings to put things in perspective,” recalled Zaheer Khan, now working as a TV expert and a bowling coach. A double century at the Ferozeshah Kotla (in 2008) brought joy to Laxman’s face but Zaheer was far more delighted in the pavilion when his ‘pupil’ raised his bat.

“It was so funny,” laughed Laxman. “RP (Singh) was sitting next to Zaheer and thought it was for him. RP had bowled a lot to me in the nets and it was understandable he thought I was signalling him. No offence meant but Zaheer was the one who had persistently encouraged me saying a big score was round the corner. I had to let the world know that.”


Twenty seasons ago, another fast bowler, Javagal Srinath, had similarly boosted the morale of a batting artist, Mohammad Azharuddin in a Test at the Eden Gardens. Azhar had not got a fifty in 10 previous visits to the crease and was sulking when Srinath assured him a “hundred was in store”. Lo and behold it fructified in a dazzling fashion — 109 off 77 balls against South Africa. Azhar raised his bat, pointing towards Srinath in the dressing room. Some thought it was to mock at someone but it was for a bowler having guided a batsman in times of distress.

Remember Yuvraj Singh touching Tendulkar’s feet at Lord’s in 2014 in a MCC-Rest of World contest. At another time, Novak Djokovic inviting a ball boy, drenching in rain but holding an umbrella for the player at French Open, to sit next to him, holding the umbrella up himself and offering the lad an energy drink was a splendid gesture.


But little could beat All Black Sonny Bill Williams gifting his Rugby World Cup gold medal last year to Charlie Lines, a 13-year-old fan who scaled the fence to get close to his hero but was hacked to the ground by a securityman.

“If that was a younger brother or cousin, I would have given the security guard a hiding. But I just picked the kid up and took him back to his old lady and tried to make the night more memorable for him. Better [for the medal] to be hanging around his neck than mine,” Williams told a newspaper later.

Such stories, like Virat presenting his bat to Mohammad Amir, only make sport a much-loved and very human vocation — for those who play and those who follow it! Virat demonstrated it the other night at the Eden.

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