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regular-article-logo Sunday, 21 April 2024

Brian Lara bats for Virat Kohli’s legacy of discipline and dedication at The Bhawanipur Education Society College

Team sport is about winning and you, as an individual player, have to have that as your No.1 target, says former West Indies captain

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 01.12.23, 07:25 AM
Brian Lara delivers The Bhawanipur Education Society College presents Tiger Pataudi Memorial Lecture, a joint initiative by The Bengal Club            & The Telegraph in association with The Oberoi Grand Kolkata, on Thursday.

Brian Lara delivers The Bhawanipur Education Society College presents Tiger Pataudi Memorial Lecture, a joint initiative by The Bengal Club & The Telegraph in association with The Oberoi Grand Kolkata, on Thursday. Pradip Sanyal

“The home of cricket is no longer at Lord’s. It’s right here in Calcutta.”

The packed house on Thursday evening couldn’t stop applauding what was a typically elegant off-the-field cover drive from Brian Lara, as he summed up his speech at The Bhawanipur Education Society College presents Tiger Pataudi Memorial Lecture, a joint initiative by The Bengal Club & The Telegraph, in association with The Oberoi Grand and powered by Kutchina.

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Alongside expressing his love for the city, where he has played just three ODI innings, as well as India, personal anecdotes with a dash of humour adorned Lara’s 40-minute-long speech which was also about his appreciation and praise for Virat Kohli,
Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and of course, the great Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.

It wasn’t the first time though that the batting legend has been effusive in his praise for Kohli. On Thursday, Lara laid emphasis on Kohli’s preparation and how he has changed the face of cricket.

“This (ODI) World Cup was a joy to watch. First of all, for Virat Kohli... I know a lot of people will say or have already said that it (Kohli’s performance) does not matter as India did not win the World Cup.

“Team sport is about winning and you, as an individual player, have to have that as your No.1 target. But a subsidiary of team success is individual success, and that is
what Kohli has given India match after match throughout the World Cup,” Lara, also a former West Indies captain, emphasised.

“Now, that did not impress me because the man is capable of much more. (But) what impresses me most about Kohli is his true legacy... For, he has changed the face of cricket and how you prepare for the game. The discipline that he has stands out, always.”

Kohli’s commitment and dedication are facets that Lara would want his son Zende too to have. “I have a son and I can tell you that if my son has to play any sport, I’ll be using Kohli’s commitment and dedication to not just add to his strength, but whatever it takes to become a No.1 sportsman,” Lara said.

Sachin’s footsteps

Following in the footsteps of the iconic Sachin Tendulkar was Kohli’s objective, Lara stated. “Being the superstar that he is and the legacy that I feel he can leave, Kohli woke up one day, turned on the television and there was a left-hander on the screen facing the English bowling,” Lara said, referring to himself.

“But as in India, there are 100-odd channels and he came across a right-hander masterly putting together an innings. And Kohli looked to the mirror and said, ‘Left-hand batting isn’t for me. See that man on the screen there. That is the footsteps I look to follow in.’ Who’s that man? Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar...”

WI’s love for India

Not just the Indians, but even people in the Caribbean were disappointed with India’s loss to Australia in the final of the 50-over World Cup back on November 19. According to Lara, such is their love for India.

“I know that, like myself, everyone is very disappointed and sad by the end result from a team who were the favourites. So, let me tell you something... This Indian
team reminds me of the West Indies teams I’ve seen in the 70s and 80s.

“Every country that they went to, they were loved. The cricket supporters love their country, yes, but they also loved the West Indies. India now holds that mantle,” Lara said.

“Of course, coming from Trinidad and Tobago, the majority of the population is Indian. Of course, many years ago, they had invented the labour scheme. We are now 40 to 45 per cent of Indian population and, of course, a melting pot of Africans and Chinese and Syrians and everybody else. So, the West Indies missing out from the World Cup, there was only one team for us to support.

“And as I said, the end result (India’s loss) was not something that we were looking for. But this is how it is supposed to stay. You have to take the good with the bad and I can say India can be very proud of what they did (in the World Cup).”

Tribute to Tiger

Lara, by his own admission, does not have much idea about Pataudi, whose cricketing innings ended in 1975, but he does understand and value the former captain’s contribution to Indian cricket in spite of having played with just one eye.

“Anyone who averages a touch above 35 for his country playing 46 Test matches, losing an eye and playing with one eye, I shudder to think what this man could have been capable of if he had all the faculties.

“Whatever they possessed at that time, he was able to carve out a career that was ready to put India on the map and definitely shaped Indian cricket’s landscape,” Lara said.

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