Learning from Virat Kohli’s motivational speech in the RCB dressing room

“There is a one per cent chance, and sometimes that chance is good enough. But what matters is what you think about that one per cent. Are you willing to give absolutely everything that you have to make that one into ten, and then grow that 10 into 30 and something magical happens?” This was a motivational talk by Virat Kohli that Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) fans made viral in the aftermath of their team qualifying for the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs. 

RCB were the butt of ridicule and Kohli, former India captain and franchise skipper for over a decade, was under fire in IPL 2024. No, not for “failure” as defined by poor strike-rate or consuming too many deliveries, but because that has been the DNA of the love-hate relationship which Kohli, or Cheeku to Delhi guys, has enjoyed with many.

Indeed, what happened on Saturday night in Bengaluru, when rain almost threatened to ruin a virtual knockout game, was in the offing. But then, just as Kohli had spoken of how “magical things can happen” and kept the RCB players focused, the results were there to see.

For those obsessed with stats and data analytics in cricket, the romance of Kohli is like asking a Bot to fall in love with a human being. Yes, in terms of sheer performance, Kohli has scored 708 runs in 14 games this season. His strike-rate is 155.60, at an average of 64.36. If that is still short of some imaginary yardstick, then maybe people expect Kohli to climb Mount Everest every morning for his morning stroll.

Never mind. That effervescent knock against Chennai Super Kings (CSK), 47 off 29 balls when most needed, showed that Kohli could score faster than many young batters. If runs scored alone define greatness and longevity, there is something wrong with those who are cricket pundits. It is normal for the average cricket fan who writes anything on social media and passes it off as “expert opinion” to get more views, more clicks. This is the age of click-bait in so many walks of life, so much so that people appear to have forgotten how to enjoy the good things in life.

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli 

For those who have been connoisseurs of good spirit, old is gold. Kohli’s batting has been like a special vintage brought out from the cellar, regardless of the ‘date label’ fixed on him. When he did not play the Test series against England earlier in 2024, all kinds of things were said. Some even questioned why he had to travel abroad with his wife for the second child’s delivery. Since when did personal choices become public opinion? When a player wants privacy, respect it. When you want to slam him for non-performance, do it minus vendetta and bile.

Some from the Fourth Estate are also guilty of pure vitriol against Kohli. It is as if Kohli is a sinner and the critics are saints. Then again, when you have a well-known cricket expert who has been part of the TV commentary circus for over two decades exhibit a personal dislike for Kohli, you can be sure there is an agenda. A TV commentator’s job is to talk cricket. Yet, the commentator, given his giant following on social media and exalted status, also loves Kohli-baiting. Why? That’s something only the expert can answer, as his job, primarily, is not just to slam Kohli.

As he approaches 36 annual rings Kohli continues to be Teflon-coated. Of course, there will be that raw display of emotion when his eyes pop out and the face goes red in anger. In sport, such emotion not necessarily used to abuse a rival or a team. It’s a way to channelise energy and bring out the best. For those sitting on high horses and pontificating about good behaviour, John McEnroe was famous for his left-handed creativity with the wooden tennis racquet, as well as his verbal volleys. People loved it then, nearly half a century ago, even if the chair umpires didn’t.

If someone does not like an animated Kohli, switch off. Don’t watch IPL, flick the remote button and surf other channels which are more sober. As for the Kohli speech in the dressing room, exhorting his teammates to have belief, the RCB comeback has been the story of IPL 2024.

He is very much going to be there in New York as well in June, when India take on Pakistan in a much-hyped league match of the ICC T20 World Cup. To borrow from the title of the late Mike Marqusee’s book, cricket is ‘War Minus The Shooting’. Kohli will be on the battlefront, leading the line by choice!