Deserving of 100 Tests and more

Deserving of 100 Tests and more

Virat Kohli will walk with a big heart at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali tomorrow, felt as the doorstep of the grand pavilion.

His century in Tests does full justice to his talent, temperament, tenacity and of course, longevity. In most of those Tests, he was the opponent’s most prized wicket, the widest bat he had to beat and a great mind that went beyond description of a ‘good cricketing mind’.

Indian cricket has been lucky. Very lucky. When the sun was setting on Sunil Gavaskar’s career, we wondered who would be the next running factory. Two seasons later, Sachin Tendulkar emerged and as his career was nearing its end, we wondered where the great batsman would turn from.

Yes, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag were Test icons, but they didn’t have to occupy the place where an era ended. Kohli had to – perhaps unintentionally – and has done so admirably. He has his crusty patches, but even in them, he hasn’t looked out of form. The opposition was always aware of the warrior within and that sword of the bat never blew to such an extent that it was completely harmless.

A batting average over a period of time is a safe bet to distinguish a good batsman from a good batsman. His 7,962 runs have come on 50.04. Throw in those 27 centuries and don’t forget the 100 catches.

Against his best opponents—Australia on his soil—he has been autocratic. He was catapulted to batting stardom in the disastrous 2011-12 tour of Adelaide Test. His 116 in the first innings at the picturesque South Australian venue was a declaration of sorts, but the Australian cricketers would have seen a special spark in the two innings he played in the last Test in Perth – 44 and 75 – both for his team to top scores.

In Adelaide, he made sure he got his maiden Test century, but not before enduring some worrying moments in the 90s, courtesy of Peter Siddle. On commentary, Bill Lawrie said that he would not want to be his parent in India in those nervous moments. Lowry certainly had not heard of the story that Kohli’s father had passed away five years before the Adelaide ton and with the knowledge of how the Delhi youngster batted in a Ranji Trophy game against Karnataka. He was to go home and perform the last rites that evening.

The next time Kohli was at the Adelaide Oval for a Test, he was as India’s captain – although Mahendra Singh Dhoni was injured as a caretaker. Kohli’s centuries in both innings brought alive Vijay Hazare’s 1947-48 feat against Don Bradman & Co., but this time, the hosts were put in a position where they could lose. Kohli’s second innings century almost took India home and my late friend Ashley Mallett, who bowled off-spin for Australia, was convinced that India would have won if they had not dropped Ravichandran Ashwin, who was overtaken by Karn Sharma. Had given. The rookie leggie could not harm Michael Clarke & Co on that “minefield” as described by the Adelaide man.

Mallett’s fellow South Australian Ian Chappell described Kohli’s second innings century as the best century ever in the fourth innings.

Years later, the former captain was sure that Kohli would have a big say with the bat in the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, when India won the Test series for the first time in Australia, and he was right.

Kohli scored a century in Perth where Australia bounced back after losing the first Test in Adelaide. His 82 was crucial in India’s first innings score of 443-7 declared in Melbourne, where India were 2-1 ahead of a rain-affected draw in Sydney.

Some people like Kohli’s animated antics and some condemn it. I belong to the latter, which may also be a minority group. Anyway, it cannot be said that his aggression has helped him reach 100 Tests. Race, class, drive and many other qualities are central to their longevity.

He can be daring in his strokeplay without being suicidal, brutal without being a crude killer of bowling. And yes, he is the type you would want to be in the trenches with. Over the years, he has earned a lot of renown for his tenacity and not many bowlers can claim that he easily succumbed to them.

John Arlott, the great writer and broadcaster, passed away long before Kohli became a force to be reckoned with, but what Arlott wrote about Sir Jack Hobbs is perhaps true for Kohli as well: “It is one of the riches of cricket that has Saw him batting. Every man who had ever attempted to bat could see the flower of that craft, through perfect execution, into an art. ,

In many ways, Kohli is an absolute batsman – a player worthy of 100 Tests and more.

Mid-Day’s Group Sports Editor Clayton Merzello is a purist with an open stance.
He tweeted @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com
The views expressed in this column are those of the individual and do not represent the views of the paper.

Kaomoji

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