Stadium reverberating with subcontinent waves, streets filled with people hunting for backup options in case electricity goes off, Police ready to apply section 144 and many more. All this was a regular affair in the India-Pakistan match. But for the 2022 Asia cup match, people are not interested in watching it.
Two sides of Kohli’s aggression
Virat Kohli is known for his fierce counter to any kind of aggression, be it on or off the field. The man has often been at the centre stage of dual rivalry. Mitchell Johnson, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, James Faulkner and even Gautam Gambhir, Kohli has taken almost everybody head-on. But there is another side of the story.
Kohli has made aggression a thing of the past. As Kohli’s reputation as a perennial bad boy started to gain momentum, the man slowly gained the attention of ad agencies. Now, the ad world is not a normal world. Common sense does not prevail here. You have to present something as a harbinger of change in order to sell stuff.
Kohli’s aggression was misused by Bollywood
This is where Kohli’s aggression came in handy for them. Between the battle of beauty and beast, Kohli had to be shown as a harbinger for beauty. It just feels good to the eye when a man known for in-your-eyes approach on the field is seen offering post-marriage promises to her wife, on a few occasions even accepting his unsubstantiated humiliation from her as well.
The reason why it feels so great is because erstwhile Kohli-types are not known for fitting in the “perfect male category of modern society”. People like Shane Warne, Chris Gayle and many others were known for being the exact opposite of what Kohli was promoted to be. Speaking archetypically, It just soothes people’s souls when they see a beast getting beaten by beauty, with beauty not even picking up any arms.
Kohli’s mistake of taking reel as real
Soon, Kohli seems to have internalised all those characteristics which his on-screen presence showcased. He started to make Instagram videos of him dancing, passing soft messages, speaking inspirational one liners. His clipped reels started to gain more and more views.
Money kept flowing in while Kohli’s aggression started to die down. Now, his aggression is just a pale shadow of the former and frankly looks more defensive than anything else. Once, he was seen pacifying angry R. Ashwin who was going all guns blazing against Jimmy Anderson.
Impact on India-Pak rivalry
Now, Kohli was a stalwart of India. That is why his curtailment of aggression would be a bad PR for India-Pakistan cricket match. When countries like India-Pakistan, Australia-England collide on a cricket field, a high intensity drama is needed. In that case, a stalwart’s role gains immense importance. Media takes a leaf out of their statement and even if a player says something neutral his statement is used for stoking emotion.
Role of hype in people’s interest
On its part, Media has been trying to use dualistic rivalries using Kohli. In the 2015 world cup, they projected Kohli against Ahmed Shehzad. In the 2017 Champion trophy, Hasan Ali was in the firing line. The 2019 world cup saw both Babar Azam and Mohammed Amir being projected against Kohli.
When such rivalries build up, people expect at least verbal aggression from one segment. Glenn McGrath of Australia was quite good at it and a major segment of TRP during his time were directly attributed to him.
Kohli does not even try
If not an out-an-out aggression, at least a strategic silence is needed. Media interprets this silence as the player’s willingness to let his bat do the talking. Sachin Tendulkar was quite efficient at it. He never spoke a word against Akhtar but his bat spit fire. Talking about on field aggression, Venkatesh Prasad’s send back to Amir Sohail is still a part of folklore. People still love the extreme of masculinity, which has just disappeared from modern society.
Virat Kohli on the other hand has acted as Pacifier in India-Pakistan games. On a show hosted by Aamir Khan, Kohli told the audience that Amir is the toughest batsman in the world. In the last T20 world cup, the man was clicked laughing with and hugging Mohammed Rizwan. Even before this Asia cup match, he has termed Babar Azam as the top batsman in the world.
Crushed souls do not give crushing performances
While all these activities look good to watch, there is a demoralising angle to it as well. Imagine Indians idolising Kohli as the best batsman in the world, only to realise that for him it is someone else. Imagine them spending their lives presenting facts, data, statistics to complete strangers in order to destroy their claim that Babar is better than Kohli. How would they feel to know that their Kohli has decided to ditch them?
Surely, these optics give you ads and money to survive, but you lose fans, respect, honour and many other traits which make you a man. The soul of masculinity is lost when you rate your opponent higher than you. Crushed souls do not give crushing performances and evidence is too glaring to ignore.
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