The drive from Victoria's Mornington Peninsula to Sorrento makes a scenic trip, including a ferry transfer. On reaching Queenscliff, and on the way to Werribee Open Range Zoo, the eye is drawn to a small playground where youths in white engage in a game of cricket in Geelong, Victoria's second largest city after Melbourne. There's just something about this particular teen. He's practicing shadow, a lot Virat Kohli-esq. The similarity in their stance and trigger movement is unreal. He sits down and tries to learn Kohli's six-run flick by going back to the India vs Pakistan MCG World Cup epic on YouTube. Moments later, as his turn to bat comes up, he is out for a duck on the second ball, and Kohli stands there in disbelief as the ball stays low and ends up hitting his pads.
Phil Allen is 16 years old and a big fan of Kohli. Despite his father John's efforts to introduce Phil to the talented Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, the kid continues to watch, follow and immerse himself in everything Kohli does. “He won't listen. Kohli is the center of his universe. His room is full of his posters. I tried to show him the talent of Ponting, Lara, Tendulkar, but gave up after some time. Kohli is the best. She is almost perfect…”
Before John can finish speaking, his son interrupts, “Not close. he is perfect.”
Kohli's legend lives on
“Kohli's the winner! India's wait for a Test series win in Australia in 2018/19 ended. Having visited these shores for the first time in 1947/48, it had been torturous for both fans and players. Cheteshwar Pujara's runs helped India win the first Test in Adelaide, but the Australians leveled the series with the home team in Perth. Yet right here, at the mighty MCG, Virat Kohli and his men retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy – winning by 137 runs. First Test series win ensured with a draw at SCG.
Shane Warne and Dennis Lillee have been immortalized at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but right next to the ticket counter there is a special glass-protected counter reserved for Kohli and his batch of 2018 with the above text. The class that gave Indian cricket one of its greatest moments ever – the first Test series win in Australia. Sure, Kohli lifted the trophy in Sydney, but it was at the MCG where India decided Australia's fate. For an entire generation of cricket fans growing up, beating Australia in a Test series remained a pipe dream… until Kohli's brigade made it a reality. And thus, the legend of Kohli grew… in India, in Australia and especially in Melbourne.
Kohli loves Adelaide, doesn't he? Two centuries in 2014, first Test century, World Cup century against Pakistan. But it is the people of Melbourne who cannot stop themselves from praising the talent of the man. If Kohli's superstardom wasn't already skyrocketed by his heroics at the MCG, he cemented himself as a legend with his 82-run knock against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup on October 23 night. 28 runs needed on 8 consecutive balls off Haris Rauf. Wicket on no-ball. Ashwin's winning blow. Goosebumps!
If watching Kohli perform exceptionally well on the TV screen sends a shiver down your spine, then imagine the electric atmosphere in every seat at the MCG. James Tranter, a marketing executive specializing in tourism at the Melbourne Cricket Club, has witnessed some of the most famous battles at the venue during his five-year tenure. Unfortunately, he could not be present on the day of the blockbuster match between India and Pakistan. However, his friends did, and for them it was the loudest roar the MCG had ever seen. Many thanks to Kohli.
“Oh, Kohli! He's extremely talented, isn't he? A superman. if they call [Sachin] Tendulkar God, he has to be supernatural. He makes incredible things happen. My friends were at G that night and believe me, it was the loudest the MCG had ever heard. India-Pakistan was incredible, and the game…ugh! Virat does very well. He is a very passionate cricketer. We have seen a lot of classics played at the MCG, but Virat's innings will long remain at the top of MCG cricket folklore,” says James, who stands over six and a half feet tall. Hindustan Times,
Kohli's presence is felt not only in cricket but also on the streets of Melbourne. Higson Lane is full of graffiti, but the one featuring the Indian cricket trio of Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma can't be missed. It was painted after Kohli's Pakistan epic and 15 months later, it has become a major attraction. As we stroll leisurely down Higson, a young man stands next to Kohli's portrait in the mural, trying to get his friends to click their version of the backfoot punch. “Come on now! Do you really think you can give Kohli the privilege? Let me see you hit that straight six”.
He tries but can only get so close, like so many others who have tried and failed to repeat that remarkable six.