Virat Kohli’s 149 brought India back into the game on Day 2 of the first test match against England.
When Virat Kohli entered the press conference on the day preceding the first test, he looked completely at ease. It was as if the demons of 2014 were a man-made myth. He answered all the questions with absolute ease. Later, he even said that he had nothing to prove in England.
But he had to wait for his chance to shed the monkey on his back. England batted first, but Virat, even on day one, ensured that all the stories are about him.
His direct hit dismissed English captain Joe Root, and the celebration which followed would haunt Root for some time. Kohli blew a kiss, put his finger on the mouth and imitated Root’s mic drop from the ODI series. The next day, as KL Rahul went for a cover-drive without any substantial amount of footwork to complement, the uprooted stumps gave way for Virat Kohli to enter. And he did, with boos all around from the angry English crowd. But as he departed, India were back in the game, and the boos from English supporters were a distant memory.
There were struggles. Virat played and missed. On two occasions, his catches went to ground, thanks to Dawid Malan on second slip. But as he continued on an enormously gritty knock, it was the hallmark of his innings. He was ready to look bad to prove his mettle in the only country where he was yet to justify his greatness. When Virat Kohli couldn’t deliver the perfect shots for the cameramen, he decided to struggle, simply because this is how greats operate.
He was ready to get beaten by the bowler for the time being, because he had bigger things in mind. And he was able to shed his ego for a while, because the score he ultimately ended upon further inflated his stature among the modern-day cricketing greats.
The first half-century in whites on English soil was a contest between Virat Kohli and English bowlers. When Anderson’s swing was consistently negated by Indian captain’s awe-inspiring grit, Virat Kohli’s trademark shots began to arrive. On one occasion he punched Stuart Broad towards the covers, and on the other, he cut him square with conviction.
A stunning silence fell over Edgbaston.
The second half-century, however, was Kohli’s battle with his own teammates. Wickets began to fall at an alarming rate. And there came a time when Virat, helpless, stranded at 97, pinned his hope on Umesh Yadav to play out Adil Rashid to prevent the 10th wicket from falling down.
Yadav did. Kohli sighed. Kohli was ready.
A cut on Ben Stokes was followed by a celebratory roar, a kiss on the wedding ring, and a nod of acknowledgement to his wife. It was almost as if this was Virat Kohli’s own way of signification on what Anushka Sharma, his the-then girlfriend in 2014, had to face after his failures at the very same place. It was almost as if life had come a full circle for Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma.
The moment Virat crossed his hundred, destruction followed. Square cut. Flick to fine leg. Trade mark stepping out to spinners and a punch towards covers. The pair added 53 runs. Umesh Yadav scored one of them.
The knock of gritting and the struggle was real, yet there was a sense of conviction in Virat Kohli’s demeanour. He took risks, which he takes on any given innings, even when the glooming shadows of 2014 were apparent at certain moments.
And that is what differs Virat from the rest, doesn’t it? He cannot limit himself to be a mere part of the show.
He is the goddamned show.