The last time Virat Kohli toured England for Test series, he was labelled as a ‘flat track bully’ by many for his 134 runs in 10 innings. Come 2018, fans were waiting in anticipation of what is to come out of the biggest challenge of Kohli’s Test career, conquering the demons of English pitches.
Cut to August 2, 2018. Kohli comes to bat in yet another tricky situation. The top order had collapsed again after a decent start. Murali Vijay and KL Rahul fell prey to 20-year-old left-arm pacer Sam Curran. Shikhar Dhawan too continued his ordinary run on the tour.
The Indian skipper tried to get the innings back on track but was running short of partners. He got dropped twice too in the process. Every time the ball took an edge off the bat and did not carry to the fielder, he breathed a sigh of relief. He was going for the long haul whether it was with or without his teammates’ help.
Somewhere between struggling to play the drives and leaving the ball along, Kohli reached his half-century but the battle was only half won. Arguably the best batsman in the world had to learn to bat with the tail. He took calculated risks but kept most of the strike to himself.
As he was nearing his century, he started making up for his low strike rate against James Anderson by taking chances against other bowlers. After toiling in the middle for long enough he reached his first ever century in England, a stamp of validation on his talent on tough pitches.
After completing his 22nd Test century, he focused on the next target — reduce the deficit to a minimum. He started taking on the bowlers by smashing them all over the park, not afraid to take the aerial route at occasions. He got out after scoring 149 runs, one of the best knocks of the career.
The Anderson vs Kohli debate has been put to rest for at least a small period of time. Even England cricketers acknowledged the hard work Kohli had put in to improve his technique.
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) August 2, 2018
Expect Kohli to get his revenge on Anderson. Wrote this before the game but I thought Anderson ( as well as Kohli) was quite brilliant todayhttps://t.co/LzKKmtXVwx
— Mike atherton (@Athersmike) August 2, 2018
Virat is The King!
— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) August 3, 2018
Showed it different innings today which I love to see in World class players…took his time & then when batting with the lower order cashed in he gave chances in this innings but if you don’t take them you will pay!! https://t.co/Q4O83W1p5y
— Alex Tudor (@alextudorcoach) August 2, 2018
Brilliant knock from Kohli. Well played. #ENGvIND
— James Taylor (@jamestaylor20) August 2, 2018
The 29-year-old has outscored his previous total in 10 innings played in England. The five-match Test series has just started and the backbone of team India will be tested over and over again.