The Fusion of Genius: Virat Kohli & Ajinkya Rahane

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 28, 2014 20:31 hrs

They have been one of the most versatile artists in the Indian cultural sphere.

In their long legendary careers, the two supremely talented artists have come together only on a handful of occasions. But whenever they have, the result has been pure magic.

It was mesmerizing and classical, where musical nodes and poetry touched almost every soul.

With his soft, soothing and serene heavy bass voice Jagjit Singh gave musical expression to countless memorable ghazals and nazms. Without a doubt the doyen of the ghazal genre, the maestro delivered some exuberant classics of his own.

But, the best came when he collaborated with one of the most influential poet who had a significant cultural impact- Gulzar.

Jagjit Singh's journey with Gulzar started with reinterpreting Mirza Ghalib and scaled new heights with Marshim, where the recitation of Gulzar, with a heavy Hawaiian guitar in the background ensured every single word was worth gold.

And with this the Gulzar Jagjit Singh jugalbandi was a masterpiece where every concert was a sell out whenever and wherever it was performed.

A similar kind of jugalbandi took place on Sunday, but this time on a cricket field- the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. A batting jugalbandi, where one dived into the past remembering retired Indian heroes and also looked at the future of Indian cricket with joy and assurance.  

As cricket lovers, fans save their best for Boxing Day Test matches. The Boxing Day Test occupies a special place in the Australian calender. It is that part of the year where the whole of country enjoys the Christmas holiday period. It's time to relax, sit back and enjoy the game with a pint.

Steve Smith  and his army posted a mammoth 530 runs on board with the skipper leading from the front with a blistering 192. Murali Vijay lead the fightback with a poised unbeaten half-century but on Day Three the Australians flourished with two quick and key wickets.

And just when Mitchell Johnson and co. were hoping of a super Sunday, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane wrote a script that will be regarded as one of the greatest overseas blockbuster one had ever witnessed.

It was a jugalbandi where one didn't try to match shot for shot. Rather it was two different performers with completely different characteristics yet creating magic.

The conditions were demanding, India were facing a mammoth total, the heat was on the visitors but they prevailed. Every batsman talks of being in a 'zone'. And today was the day when nothing mattered for Kohli and Rahane.

Batting, batting and more batting.

Pujara and Vijay walked back after playing hasty strokes, Nathan Lyon purchased some turn by exploiting the rough and while Johnson breathed fire, Ryan Harris bowled an inspiring spell of reverse swing.

But, a classical stand of 262 runs between Rahane and Kohli ensured India are very much in the Test match. This means Steve Smith's dream of gifting Australia the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on New Year's eve is nearly broken.

Rahane started it all. Setting up the tone of the partnership by scoring less than a ball to make the bowlers think.

He waited patiently, mixed caution with aggression beautifully and strolled nonchalantly to take the momentum away from Australia.

Kohli was in his zone, caressing the ball through covers, bisecting the gaps with surgical precision and occasionally chirping around with the opposition.

Lyon handed Rahane a life when he was batting on 70 and the Mumbaikar ensured he made Australia pay.

With eyes bright open, he was an artist at work and by now Kohli found the sweet spot every time he made contact with the red cherry.  

The exhibition has started. There were pulls, cuts, straight drives, cover drives. There were also lofted shots clearing the fielders successfully and not to forget a slap over mid-on.   

Kohli, no doubt, is a star who made the world sit and take notice of him. But, today was a day when the cricketing world saw the making of yet another genius- Rahane.

Rahane was part of so many squads, donning the blue jacket and carrying drinks onto the field. He kept warming the benches but when the opportunity came he grabbed.

If the gutsy century at Lord's defined his character and maturity, this knock at Melbourne ensured Rahane has all the ingredients to become the poster boy of the next generation.  

Australia's frustration continued. Mitchell Johnson threw a return at the stumps and hit Kohli in the lower back. Kohli was down but not over. Words were exchanged and the incident only got the better of the Indian run machine.  

Together they batted. Unfazed, uncompromised and till Kumar Dharmasena's finger raised they seemed unconquered.

Rahane fell three short of his 150, but the applause echoed loud at the MCG and anecdotes from the commentators made fans realise they witnessed something special.

Somewhere a tear trickled down, but this time of joy. Poised and spectacular, Oh Rahane what a knock!

Just when two of India's best batsmen gave a bright glimpse of the future of Indian cricket, the rest of the side confirmed it was still a distant dream.

For debutant KL Rahul, former Australian batsman Mathew Hayden had just two words. 'Brain Explosion'. And after witnessing such a blockbuster for nearly four hours, most Indians returned to perform their Sunday chores. The jugalbandi was broken and so were hearts as India pressed the collapse button.

Kohli watched in dismay as his colleagues fell like a pack of cards and although he seemed unaffected, the slide clearly affected the run scoring.

Australia roared back into the game. Johnson kept chirping around Kohli's ears. The batsman responded by offering a kiss. He then reached his 150 and then to his highest Test score 169- Kohli was in his elements but it was suicide at the other end.  

Numbers don't lie. From 4-409, India slumped to 8-462, still trailing by 68 runs- a pattern that has spread like virus.

In the penultimate over, Kohli blocked the first four deliveries of Lyon and flicked the fifth to deep square leg just for a single. He could have taken a couple, blocked the sixth to expose Mohammed Shami face the last over of the day.

Kohli didn't. Rather fancied facing Johnson in the last over. And after 29 overs of toil, Johnson had something to cheer about. Brad Haddin took a second screamer of the day, Mitch had the last laugh but it was Kohli who led the players off at stumps amidst applause from all sections of the ground.

A hot and tempered third day at the MCG had so many twits and turns. But it was the Kohli-Rahane jugalbandi that instilled faith that this Indian side can sail through rough seas.

At a juncture, where cricket has come to be associated with unorthodox style of play and remixes, Rahane and Kohli redefined categories and demonstrated that the game can be live and kicking without discarding the fundamentals.  

In 2011 at the Sheikh Rashid Hall, Gulzar and Jagjit Singh left Dubai and whole of world hypnotized for a while. The reason why the magic gripped the world was the healing touch in the voice that tugged emotional chords.

And on a sunny Sunday, Kohli and Rahane orchestrated a masterclass act where Indian fans unburdened hearts and found solace.

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