It was during the 2011 tour to the West Indies that India last won a Test series away from home. Virat Kohli was on debut in the first Test in Kingston, Jamaica.
After making only four in his first innings, he was in the company of Rahul Dravid in the second when the fiery Fidel Edwards decided to test him. A barrage of quick, short deliveries had Kohli hopping around the crease and awkwardly defending. Stares were met with glares. On one delivery, Kohli ducked in to the bouncer and was hit on the forearm causing a buzz in the sparse crowd. On the next delivery, Edwards tested him again with a short one but Kohli got under it easily, and responded with something never before seen on a cricket field—in typical Delhi-ite fashion, he blew kisses to Edwards!
Edwards got him with another short delivery the following morning. Kohli would be dropped after the series for the tour of England. He managed to collect only 76 runs across five innings, disappointing himself and also his supporters who expected a lot more from him.
Since the inauspicious and inconspicuous debut, Kohli was picked for the tour to Australia in 2011-12 after India were thrashed 4-0 in England. He warmed to the task by scoring twin fifties against the West Indies at home. On what was a second disastrous tour for India, Kohli provided the lone batting highlight with his maiden Test hundred at Adelaide, following a fighting 75 at Perth.
He hit another century at home against New Zealand and guided the chase in the fourth innings with a serene half-century in Bangalore. More away hundreds in South Africa and New Zealand followed in 2013-14 and the Kohli that everyone expected was blossoming into a complete batsman in front of our own eyes.
Between June 2011 and December 2014, Kohli transformed himself from a young upstart who led India Under-19 to a World Cup to a player that the national team heavily relies on. He had assumed the position vacated by Sachin Tendulkar in the line up and appears to be on his way to do full justice to it.
In the one-day arena, Kohli’s record is already astonishing and he could conceivably go past Tendulkar’s career collection of 49 centuries. He is just one more ton away from being the fourth highest century maker in ODIs, and has an average exceeding 50. He has played career-defining innings, including the assault on Lasith Malinga during a nerveless chase in Hobart and the mindboggling 183 against Pakistan in Dhaka.
Winding the clock forward to December 2014, Kohli is in imperious form, recovering from a lean tour of England. He is now seen as the unquestioned leader of the Indian batting unit, and with MS Dhoni’s surprise retirement, the unquestioned leader of the team. He has already amassed 30 international hundreds and emulated India batting legend Sunil Gavaskar with three hundreds in a series in Australia. His Test average is heading well north of 40 and, seemingly with every outing, he is stamping his class and authority on the game.
At Melbourne, Kohli was playing another one of his regal innings and the Australian bowlers looked a bit knackered. Mitchell Johnson throws at the stumps and hits Kohli. There is plenty of chatter and Kohli is happy to participate in it. He thinks the banter helps him. He takes a length delivery from Johnson and powerfully smacks it over mid-off. He puts an exclamation mark on the audacious shot with a little kiss blown to the bowler.
In Jamaica, he was seen to be just talking the talk without really walking the walk. In Melbourne, he talked the talk and walked the walk.
They have called him a spoilt brat. They saw him as too brash. They thought he was just all bling-bling. They have seen him be respectful of the game. They have heard of him being a young man wanting to be among the greats.
We have seen and heard him be all that and more. He is a kid from Delhi that gives a bit of lip, cops his share and gets on with the game.
The game, he has got a lot of it.
Updated Date: Jan 05, 2015 13:02 PM