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Why Kohli’s Performance At Eden Makes Me Believe That He Can Be The Next Tendulkar

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Cricket - India v Pakistan- World Twenty20 cricket tournament - Kolkata, India, 19/03/2016. India's Virat Kohli walks off the field after winning their match against Pakistan. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri - RTSB8F8
Virat Kohli. Image credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri.

He hit the ball square, through extra cover, on the rise, without any thought about the pitch being slow or the ball gripping. He showed the full face of the bat to the ball, into a straight drive, the shot that he owned like his fingerprints. He stepped down to Murali and Dharmasena at will, hitting them over the infield, immune to the roars of a 100,000-strong partisan crowd at Eden Gardens. Sachin was in the ‘zone’, as comfortable as Lord Natraj, with a fearless and elegant performance tempting the audience by the sheer virtue of his glamour.

While he was at the crease, India reaching the finals of WC 1996 seemed to be a mere formality. Batting seemed like child’s play on the field that people worried had demons planted in it. It was only after his wicket that the landmines in the pitch exploded as Sri Lanka spun its web around the batting that followed. The horror of the collapse was unbearable to the crowd that began rioting, leading to the game being infamously truncated and awarded to Sri Lanka, ending the dreams of India reaching the finals of the World Cup.

Exactly 20 years later, again in a World Cup, same venue, in front of the same crowd, Team India was again chasing, an easier score but made stiffer by a top-order batting collapse. Though not a semi-final, it was a knockout game for India and if not a knockout for Pakistan, surely a do-or-die one, given the history they have against their arch rivals in World Cups across all formats. So, the enormity of the occasion was not lost on the minds out there, the 90,000-strong crowd in the stands and the billions of spectators glued to the TV sets. This time, if not by spin, India were torn apart by the brute force of the Pakistan pace attack. The passions are so out of control in these high-voltage bilateral encounters, that had India lost this one, another fire riot was unavoidable.

But, as if oblivious to all this, stood Virat Kohli, crafting a magical innings, carving yet another memorable chase. Extremely consummate in his approach he was more interested in showcasing his finest skills like a painter in a trance drawing out bold strokes of bright colours. But it was not till he reached his much deserved 50 that the real drama unfolded. The flood of emotions engulfed everyone as he bowed down towards the stands and the cameras focused on the glowing face of Sachin. India, yet again, defeated Pakistan in a World Cup encounter. The sense of joy in this moment had so much power that it erased the painful memories of that forgettable match from the past.

Cricket - India v Pakistan- World Twenty20 cricket tournament - Kolkata, India, 19/03/2016. India's Virat Kohli takes a bow after scoring his half century. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri - RTSB8HY
Kohli takes a bow. Image credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri.

That bow was not just out of respect for the legend in the stands but also a reassuring statement Kohli intended to make, “You carried Indian Cricket on your shoulders for 24 years, now it’s my time to take the legacy forward from where you left.” That night, when Sachin would have been alone, he would surely have leaned back with relief, eyes closed, and felt satisfaction in the core of his heart.

Further on in the tournament, we saw Kohli almost singlehandedly take India to victory during a tough chase against Australia, again bringing back the memories of Sachin’s Sharjah magic in 1998. He again unfurled a signature innings against West Indies in the semi-finals. Unfortunately, some brilliant batting performance from West Indies halted the progress of Team India at Wankhede. But the breathtaking performances from Kohli won him a well deserved Man of The Tournament award.

The baton indeed has been passed but the run hasn’t yet been completed, the finish line far from reached. While in the shorter format we see Kohli breaking records one after the other, the Test average of 41 just isn’t good enough. This surely has to go up, at least above 50, before the comparison with previous masters can be justified. On one hand, he has piled up huge scores in the longer format against the formidable Australians in their own den, on the other, England seems to have got the better of him allowing him to score a measly average of about 13 in their own backyard. In the upcoming Test Series this year, in the Caribbean against West Indies, he would like to live up to his reputation and pile up huge mountains of runs, where in the past he has managed only 76 runs in his 5 Test innings.

All the greats who have played the game have scored against all the teams, all over the world, in different conditions. That’s a feat that this ambitious cricketer must be desperate to emulate. Though we know it’s just a matter of time before he breaks these barriers, purists will wait for that to happen to put him in the league of those extraordinary gentlemen who have graced the game.

Now, there will be loads of expectations each time he walks onto the pitch, with each innings of his being scrutinised under the microscope. With each of his failures raising eyebrows. Criticism can be gut-wrenching and can exert a huge amount of pressure. Bowlers from all over the world shall be searching for the chink in his armour to penetrate and get the better of him. But he has the talent and ability to conquer these obstacles, the work ethic of continual improvement and, above all, the much-needed passion for the game to see him through. All these qualities helped those legends from the past and we wish this ‘legend in the making’ takes his career to ever greater heights.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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