Hello my dear friends. I am sorry for the delay in writing as my knee was troubling me and my media commitments were keeping me busy. I promise that I will be more prompt from here on.
I am writing this sitting by the poolside of my beautiful hotel, St Regis in Mumbai. This was earlier called The Palladium hotel but now post the ownership switch it is now called St Regis. I have told this to many friends across the world and especially to the ones back home in Pakistan that the hospitality industry in India is unmatched. I mean the hotels are beautiful, the staff is extremely efficient and warm, there are international cuisines on offer, well-equipped gyms and all of this is so competitively priced. Thanks to God Almighty I have travelled across the world and stayed at some really luxurious properties. By and large India offers consistently good hospitality.
Grand hospitality is well-topped by some spectacular IPL action on TV. For a cricket tragic myself there can’t be a better concoction. Today evening Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Gujarat Lions in the first Qualifier game. Whatever be the result of this game I am sure of one thing that Virat Kohli has taken some giant strides in his career during this IPL. To me his greatness doesn’t lie in close to the 900 runs that he has scored so far or the four hundreds that has blazed off his bat. All these numbers are brilliant and is something that you guys see on the field. We cricketers gauge a fellow cricketer on different scales and one of them being the attitude.
This is the attribute that separates Virat from his contemporaries. I am not sure how many modern day cricketers would have risked an injured left hand loaded with 9 stitches and would have still played matches for his team. By the way Virat not only played but he single-handedly won games for RCB. That shows Virat’s attitude. He could have easily opted out of these matches and no one would have complaint but this man is hungry for success. He wants to win and win at all costs. The other thing to look at is that he wasn’t pushing any of his team-mates to do the unthinkable. Instead like all good leaders he was citing an example for the others to follow. It is tough to defeat pain but I think Virat has done it this time.
I also admire Virat’s fitness. There is timing in his strokes and then there is abundant energy in his running between wickets. It is a good sign for any cricket team if their captain is fitness conscious as he is the one who sets the precedent. I also like the way Gautam Gambhir plays his cricket. He likes to fight and take on the opposition. I saw him setting attacking fields to his former India team-mate MS Dhoni. He was trolled on social media for this and even some of the experts questioned the wisdom of setting such fields. But I didn’t find anything wrong in with Gautam’s tactics. Whatever he was doing is within the rules of the game. Most importantly his fielding positions were working. Dhoni one of the best hitters in the game has always gone on defensive whenever Gautam has set attacking fields.
I am bracing myself to some enthralling cricket action in the coming days. Someone asked me which team is the favourite to win the title. I said in IPL cricket is the real winner.
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(Shoaib Akhtar is a former Pakistan Test cricketer)