Reliving Virat Kohli’s 10 Heroic Tons on His Decade in Tests
The milestones in Kohli’s career range from a gallant 153 versus South Africa to his redeeming tons in England.
The ten-year-challenge trend, like every other social media fad, picked up steam only to fizzle out in the blink of an eye. Nonetheless, it was fun while it lasted, as with each transformative collage hitting the webspace, one could sense rapid evolution and the infinite potential of human growth. The decade gone by has witnessed many a whizz-kid rise from shadows of oblivion to make a name for themselves. And sitting atop the pantheon of these success stories is Virat Kohli, the almighty modern-day batting great.
He is the heartthrob of Indian cricket, a run-machine par excellence who blazed a fitness trail to mould his troops into a world-beating phenomenon. It is nothing else but poetic justice that the august date of 20 June, which marks ten years since his debut in Test cricket, coincides with the World Test Championship final underway in Southampton. The chubby-faced rookie that was found wanting by West Indies’ pace arsenal at Kingston in 2011, is, cut to the present day, leading the pack as India stand on the brink of ultimate Test glory.
Let’s take a trip down the memory lane to revisit the ten creme de la creme tons bludgeoned from the master’s willow:
116 vs Australia – Adelaide (2012)
The day the young Turk shouted his arrival from the rooftops. He walked in with India teetering at 87/4 and staged a gutsy rearguard to slam his maiden Test century. Kohli played with a clarity that eluded his more experienced teammates as the drives raced off the sweet spot and flicks met the boundary cushions. He punched the air in jubilation upon crossing the landmark but obscured beneath the roar was a huge sigh of relief since he had dodged the selector’s axe in the nick of time.
A settled supremo in the shorter formats, Kohli had not been able to replicate his performances in Test cricket so far. However, the Adelaide assault bought him some much-needed breathing space and the rest, as they say, is history.
141 vs Australia – Adelaide (2014)
MS Dhoni relayed the captaincy baton to Kohli at the foremost of the Test series and the heir apparent thrashed out twin tons to celebrate the dawn of a new era. India rode on the newly-anointed skipper’s 115 to post 444 on the board in reply to Australia’s 517 in the first innings.
The visitors were laid a target of 364 in 98 overs, a tough ask which would have seen most teams shut shop in the pursuit of a draw. However, Kohli is a different breed. The go-getter dealt a counterpunch in company with Murali Vijay, stitching together a partnership of 185 to give India a realistic shot at victory. It wasn’t meant to be as they stuttered at the final hurdle but Kohli’s 141 was a harbinger of his hyper-aggressive brand of cricket. In the process, he became the second player to score consecutive centuries on captaincy debut after Greg Chappell.
103 vs Sri Lanka – Galle (2015)
Kohli took centre stage with India in a spot of bother at 28/2 at Galle, but the tables turned and how. The sheet anchor contributed 103 in a vital 253-run association with Shikhar Dhawan to bail his side out of choppy waters. It was a tutorial in spin negotiation as Kohli employed soft hands to ward off the odd ball spitting from the rough. That left-arm wizard Rangana Herath, who toiled fruitlessly in the first essay when Kohli breached three figures, returned 7/48 in the final dig puts things into perspective.
235 vs England – Mumbai (2016)
When India landed in the metropolitan for the fourth Test of the five-match rubber, they were boasting of a firm two-nil lead and talisman Kohli was in red-hot form. With beefy scores of 40, 49*, 167, 81, 62, and 6* in his last 6 innings, the stage was set for a stroke-filled encore and the right-hander didn’t disappoint. England raised the truce flags as Kohli bombarded 235 in the first innings to heave India’s total over 600.
The marathon effort was a purist’s delight, stocked to the brim with bewitching drives and killer pulls. It was his third Test double hundred, the highest tally for any Indian captain. He also achieved the distinction of being the first batsman in history to hold an average of 50 in all three formats simultaneously.
211 vs New Zealand - Indore (2016)
Kohli pushed himself to the extreme in Indore’s sapping humidity to dish out a quintessential Test travail. The Holkar Stadium has always been hospitable to the tribe of batsmen and the energetic accumulator, that is Kohli, sought no second invitation. Martin Guptill at cover spent the entire day leaping in vain to intercept the booming drives, a majority of them smothered on the up courtesy of the featherbed at his disposal. Kohli motored to 211 in 366 deliveries and shared a humongous 365-run alliance with Ajinkya Rahane, who fell a dozen shy of a double century himself. No prizes for guessing, India aced the Test by a colossal 231 runs.
204 vs Bangladesh – Hyderabad (2017)
Kohli spared no mercy to minnows Bangladesh in the city of pearls as he raked up yet another daddy hundred. The neighbours were subjected to a leather hunt with Kohli cruising to 204 off 246 on the back of 24 boundaries. They weren’t just tracer-bullets walloping to the fence but sheer statements of authority.
It spoke volumes of his mental conditioning and inordinate hunger for runs that the only time he took the aerial route was to get to the 200-milestone. Thanks to the Hyderabadi heroics, Kohli became the first batsman to score four double hundreds in four series on the trot and shattered Virender Sehwag’s record for most runs by an Indian in a season.
153 vs South Africa – Centurion (2018)
The chips were down when India arrived at the Centurion. Lagging behind 1-0 in the series, their batsmen had struggled to cope with the sinister pace and bounce in this part of the world. It was Kohli who aligned the veering campaign back on the road with one of the grittiest knocks of his career worth 153.
While none of his colleagues could even transcend 50, Kohli waged a lone war against Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel to kindle a faint ray of hope. It meant he was now the second Indian captain to notch a hundred in South Africa after Sachin Tendulkar in 1997.
149 vs England - Nottingham (2018)
For all his remarkable deeds spread across demographics, the woeful record in England was a persistent thorn in Kohli’s flesh. The previous tour in 2014 was a blot on his near-spotless legacy, owing to the calamitous adventures of wafting his blade at tempters in and around the off-stump. Here was another chance to beard the lion in his own den as Kohli marched out to square off against nemesis Jimmy Anderson in the series opener at Nottingham.
Having done his homework, Kohli began on a cautionary note, respecting the conditions and mitigating his itch to dictate terms. The jeers of a ‘flat track bully’ were soon put to bed as he grew in confidence, scoring at a fair clip to kick on and construct his elusive maiden hundred on English shores.
Running out of partners, Kohli farmed the strike and pressed hard on the accelerator to bandit 57 runs for the last wicket. There was no dearth of mute spectators on the field, ranging from ally Umesh Yadav who lent just a single to the partnership and England’s speed merchants who were carted to all corners with utmost disdain. The land, which had given Kohli his wildest nightmares four years ago, was now the stuff of fond memory.
103 vs England – Trent Bridge (2018)
India were feeling the heat after the maulings at Edgbaston and Lord’s but refused to throw in the towel and opened their winning account in the series at Nottingham. Kohli led the charge with a chiselled 97 in the first dig before accomplishing his second ton of the series in the next.
The template was as clinical as it gets. He maintained a still head, got his eye in, coerced the seamers to bowl at his strengths, and made hay when they obliged. It was a lesson in pacing, an innings when the odds are stacked against you. Joe Root and Co fluffed their lines in the chase to help India sail through by a mountainous margin of 203 runs.
254* vs South Africa – Pune (2019)
Records came down tumbling in Pune as Kohli badgered South Africa black and blue with a neat, flawless 254* off 336 balls. It was business as usual for the man with a voracious appetite for runs, with silky-smooth strike rotation and patient, no-fuss percentage cricket yielding a hefty harvest. He not only went past 7,000 Test runs, the sixth fastest to the feat, but also eclipsed his idol Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag to claim the honours of being the Indian with most double hundreds in the bag.
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