Far from the razzmatazz of the IPL’s glamorous world, Virat Kohli was spotted at the Buddh International Circuit’s racing track in Greater Noida, driving at a speed which newspaper reports said touched around 280 km per hour!
Though by his own admission, he loves to drive and would always prefer to remain in the fast lane, this is a luxury men of his wealth, fame, popularity and talent can’t indulge in much, especially on Delhi roads, which are a death trap even for those driving at a speed to embarrass even a tortoise on the run.
This speed fantasy can be only fulfilled by men like Kohli on tracks designed for this purpose, as he did this week, while many of his teammates were still hitting the cricket ball to all imaginable corners of a stadium and sending crowds into a delirium. Knowing Kohli’s obsession with cricket, he must be finding these promotional events a poor substitute for real, live, fast action, of which he would prefer to be the lead cast.
By his own dizzy standards, and by any yardstick, Kohli has had a very poor Test series against Australia and an even poorer IPL this year. A shoulder injury, that necessitated a forced rest, did not help, leaving Kohli to abdicate the centre stage he is so used to occupying. From headlines that compared his run-making consistency to Don Bradman and predicted he is well on his way to overtake Sachin Tendulkar, the media had a field day, milching his popularity to garner eyeballs.
In these times of hyperbolic narrative that sustains the advertising industry, sportspersons like Kohli are a boon. If they did not exist in the real world, a wave of pessimism would engulf our TRP hungry world, as it must have ever since Kohli has gone off track and is cooling his heels behind the steering wheel of a car.
From a larger perspective that keeps the Indian team’s interest at heart and a player’s own longevity as its focus, Kohli’s lack of form in the IPL and his team’s early exit may not be such bad news.
If you read the comments of some players and experts carefully, one gets the sense that many of them are now worried that the IPL burnout could have a negative impact on the Champions Trophy that takes place next month. India has suffered in the past from this post-IPL syndrome, where all of a sudden injuries and the surfeit of cricket made the best of players appear listless and unable to play well.
Seen in this context, India should consider itself lucky that their premier batsman and inspirational skipper has had a poor IPL and, more importantly, sufficient rest before he gets back into action. The chances of remaining fresh and relaxed while driving an air-conditioned car on a racing track with a speed that makes the vehicle fly, are far better than playing non-stop in the energy-sapping heat.
As the saying goes, all is well that ends well, India would be hoping that Kohli comes good when it matters the most. And what better stage than the Champions Trophy in England to prove that injuries and lack of form are minor aberrations, a learning arc, for a talent of such limitless possibilities.