© Getty Images
MS Dhoni (left) and Virat Kohli: How much can they take? © Getty Images

Indeed, Virat Kohli could not take any more of this media circus. No mortal could have. Media, both broadcast and social, has stalked him and dissected his personal life, the paparazzi have somehow managed to acquire personal photographs, and there has been a lot more. Social media keeps trying to find links between Anushka Sharma’s presence at the ground and Virat Kohli’s performance: had the same research gone into medical science, there might have been a permanent cure for cancer by now. Since Kohli’s recent success [simultaneous with an alleged strain in the relationship] social media has taken things to another level, branding Anushka as the reason for a relatively quiet 2015 for the legend-in-making. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, Match 31, ICC World T20 2016 at Mohali

Indeed, CricketCountry has been guilty of cashing on the Virat-Anushka trend as well, albeit not for some time now.

Sunday’s match against Australia at Mohali was, as per Kohli himself, one of the three best innings of his already illustrious career. We have all been there, though most of us have not really borne the burden of the entire cricket fraternity following our every move. We have all had long, hard days that ended in sweet success. Whether the sense of satisfaction can be attributed to adrenaline or some other hormone is something doctors can tell, but we are all familiar with the feeling.

It just that Kohli has been pulling this off too often of late. These are not normal occasions; these are high-intensity contests played in front of jam-packed stadiums. Up against 39 from 3 overs, he smashed 35 from 2 against two quality bowlers, toying with their arsenal at will and making them look like pedestrians.

When MS Dhoni hit the winning boundary, Kohli sank to his knees. It was a moment of relief we are all familiar with. You let it sink in, you celebrate, and then you go to bed, allowing the excitement to simmer till you nod off.

Kohli, all of 27, probably checked Twitter or Facebook and WhatsApp sometime last night. Or maybe it was today morning (yes, they do all that — they are people too). Maybe someone had forwarded him relevant URLs or memes. READ: Virat Kohli: Shame on people for trolling Anushka Sharma

Kohli chose to retaliate in the most dignified manner possible. He had lost his temper last year after being heckled by a journalist. This time he lashed back at the meme gurus, sending out a message as brutal as any.

It had to come, now or later. Kohli is, if I may remind you, only 27, but even if he were 37, his outburst would have been perfectly justified. How would you feel if social media heckled someone who has given you “only positivity” every time you perform?

Even if you are the most focussed individual that has walked on this planet, how happy would you be if someone who has had an excellent impact on you is ridiculed of every time you succeed?

That is what Kohli has to go through, every time, from you, from us. His reaction is not surprising. What is surprising is the fact that it took so long. READ: Virat Kohli was invincible and Australia lost to him

 

What about Dhoni, then? In the press conference after the Bangladesh match, Dhoni was asked a seemingly innocent question on the lines of what he felt like after a narrow victory when there should have been an emphatic win.

Picture what Dhoni had been going through, just before that. If the Australia match was about quality batsmanship, the Bangladesh match was probably more draining in terms of intensity and adrenaline.

India were defending a modest total. Catches went down. All Dhoni could do was to keep rotating his bowlers deftly, placing his fielders immaculately, and hoping. The match went to the last over. In fact, it got so tense that a spectator in Uttar Pradesh died of anxiety.

Then, with 2 to score from 3 balls, Bangladesh collapsed, losing wickets to consecutive balls. Dhoni sensed victory, took off a glove, and with the batsmen going for the bye, he kept his cool (hence the moniker), sprinted down to effect the run out.

In a post-match interview, Ravichandran Ashwin confessed that all he wanted to do after the match was “crash”. It must have been more exhausting for Dhoni, who had been bearing the twin burden of wicketkeeping and leading.

Picture yourself. You are facing the media. You are mentally exhausted after three hours of drama of the highest intensity. You are not even congratulated. Instead, your achievement is undermined.

How would you have reacted?

When, when will we comprehend the fact that cricketers are human beings with emotions similar to ours?

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)