Mumbai, April 28 -- Virat Kohli's way of celebrating a win or relishing a milestone is usually decorated with a couple of explicit words. A few aggressive fist pumps and punching the air are a part of the rejoicing. More important the occasion or feat, the more prominent is this feature. In his new role as captain of a high-profile outfit, Royal Challengers Bangalore, the cricket world is seeing more and more of these antics. For a batsman oozing with class and having all the makings of a strong leader, Kohli has everything going for him. But, it's the ability to handle success that is likely to determine whether he will fulfill his abundant potential.
The RCB captaincy is also seen as a test of his qualities for the bigger responsibility awaiting him with the India team. In terms of performance, he's been outstanding, leading from the front both as captain and batsman. He has also shown vital leadership attributes like good body language, mental toughness, and the ability to play hard and be a good motivator.
Chink in armour
However, if there is one negative, it is his inability to check his emotions.
He has been at the centre of a controversy in every other match. Then there is the habit of kicking the air in frustration and getting involved in heated exchanges with opponents.
In Bangalore, he lost his head when sledged and had to be separated from a confrontation with Knight Riders captain and fellow Delhi player, Gautam Gambhir. Putting your point of view in an argument is fine but losing your cool can backfire. Playing on the rival player's nerves is a ploy every team uses in modern-day sport. It is not a good sign to convey to the opposition that you can be vulnerable if provoked.
This was first seen from his reaction at Sydney during the 2011-12 Test series when Kohli showed the middle finger to the abusive crowd.
Being an apprentice
In fact, after he was elevated to the India vice-captaincy, his personal coach RK Sharma had declared that it was the ideal opportunity for his fiery student to learn from Dhoni. "It's a perfect opportunity for Virat. Under Dhoni, the biggest lesson he can learn is how to maintain his cool," Sharma had told HT.
The hallmark of Dhoni's leadership has been his ability to keep emotions in check in any situation. It's something Kohli would do well to imbibe.
It's not just Kohli; it's something which is affecting the GenNext of Indian cricket. Even his Mumbai Indians counterpart, Rohit Sharma, has issues of temperament.
If Kohli was in the centre of the storm for his verbal duel with Kieron Pollard (it ended in smiles) following the Rayudu run-out incident, Sharma raised eyebrows on Saturday when he threw down his bat in disgust after being run out. Last season, Sharma had kicked the stumps in frustration while bowling.
There is a thin line between being confident and cocky, and sometimes it could be the difference between success and failure.
Not new to Wankhede
The Wankhede Stadium crowd is among the most fickle in the country and Virat Kohli got a taste of it on Saturday.
"Boorish crowd behaviour at Wankhede is not uncommon, they spare no one," tweeted former India and Mumbai player, Sanjay Manjrekar.
Another former India star in the Kohli mould, Ravi Shastri, would vouch for it. Shastri had a similar experience at the Wankhede, being taunted by his home fans towards the end of his career. The crowd would go 'hai, hai' when he took guard wearing the India cap.
More than anything, the crowd was having fun at the cricketer's expense as he used to be the target of some for his dour batting.
Sachin Tendulkar has also been booed here once, when he failed in a Test defeat against England in 2006. However, being a professional, Tendulkar didn't react . He moved on, came back and won them over. HTC
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.