Virat Kohli, India's Test captain, is a character on the field. Everyone knows that. The man is full of energy as we have seen many a time in India's blue and Royal Challengers Bangalore's red and black. Considering most of those games are already sold out to full houses, Kohli doesn't really have to do much to get the crowd going.
But during the second Test at Eden Gardens, Kohli played cheerleader for a sparse crowd on Monday, egging them on through out the day. The 12,000-odd crowd at Eden responded well too. Every time Kohli clapped at them, cupped his hands next to his ears or goaded them on, the roar was loud.
And riding on that wave of support, India defeated New Zealand by 178 runs in the second Test to climb to the top of ICC Test rankings.
Here's the video of one such instance:
On a day which started on a difficult note for India, with New Zealand showing a lot of application, fighting it out after India set a target of 376. With the wickets proving difficult to come, Kohli looked to the crowd for some inspiration.
It was hot, it was energy-sapping but Kohli asked and the crowd obliged.
Kohli acknowledged the role of the crowd post-match as well.
Explaining why he did what he did, Kohli said:
“You have to interact with them, you have to make sure they are a part of the whole thing. It just creates an energy and you feed off on that. It happens so much in limited overs, so why not in Test cricket? A challenging situation in Test cricket is the most exciting thing a viewer can see, and for a player playing as well, to feel."
"It’s our responsibility to keep Test cricket where it belongs, and if we play cricket like this – you saw how engaged the crowd was, they like to see exciting cricket, and we have to provide it. You can sense that energy which no other format can provide for you. We are just taking this as a privilege and a responsibility to keep doing what we can do, to the best of our abilities and hopefully get the right results every time – it won’t happen every time we know. But at least we can try to win a game of cricket every time we step onto the field, that’s all we think about.”
Sanjay Manjrekar, commentating for Star Sports, pointed out how this is unique for a Indian captain in Tests. He compared this to the calm demeanour of MS Dhoni and wondered if India ever had a captain who knew how to involve crowds better than Virat Kohli.
Four men around the bat for Nicholls and Kohli trying to get the crowd involved. Hostile environment you could say #indvnz ^CE— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) October 3, 2016
Uh huh. Nobody, i mean nobody, plays cricket with as much passion as this guy does.
C'mon Kohli give the umpires a rest buddy 😂— ~Cricketician~ (@Cricketician) October 3, 2016
With a long domestic season coming up, if Kohli can get the crowds going during Test matches -- thereby encouraging more people to come watch the longer format -- it will be a long and rewarding journey not just for the Indian team but for Test cricket fans in general.
Really like this India team. Kohli is my kinda captain. Pleased they are number one. Cricket needs India valuing Tests.— Peter Miller (@TheCricketGeek) October 3, 2016
What a character, indeed!