There used to be a time when the Indian middle-order had a mythic creature coming out to bat at number three in the longest format of the sport. He went by the name of Rahul Dravid. Call him a God or a Loch Ness monster, but his residence in the middle always provided hope that no matter how deceiving a surface is, he will survive and he will make India survive.
Ever since he bade adieu to the sport, India scrambled recklessly for a man similar to his stature. Haplessly, icons are disparate for a reason. A few years later, India was fortunate enough to come across Cheteshwar Pujara who started inspiring hopes but walking in the shoes of Dravid needed something extraordinary, something cosmic and most importantly a Godly magnitude of resilience.
Fast forward a few years and in the enduring build-up to the World Test Championship finale, India was worried about an anchor who could sustain the Indian batting line-up against the might of the New Zealand bowling. Being candid, the Black Caps boast about an extremely attractive bowling unit who started savouring further advantage given the dank conditions.
Despite a decent start, Sharma and Gill both got carried away to the fluidity of the innings until then and departed in quick succession, thanks to some dogged persistence from Kyle Jamieson and Neil Wagner.
As soon as Gill departed, India was staring at an impending catastrophe, a déjà vu that has hunted India in recent years. That was when the Indian captain, Virat Kohli walked in. Pujara was already on the backfoot and wanted to help India build an innings instead of rushing into some heady aggression.
The way in which Kohli has always expressed himself, his personality somewhat seems like that of a belligerent guy who always places his ego ahead of the team’s needs. The thing that India needed the least at that moment was some mindless aggression. Au contraire, Kohli showed a character completely different from the one that we have been accustomed to.
The first three balls that were faced by the Indian run-machine saw him leaving a couple of them while the other one was defended on the backfoot. It needed some time and a spoonful of outrageous brilliance for King Kohli to open up.
Wagner tempted him with a half-volley that was consigned to the ropes in emphatic fashion. However, it wasn’t just the boundary that evoked the plaudits heaped on him but the manner in which he executed it.
Kohli’s turnstile wrists have always been a significant aspect of his domination in the 22 yards and he made the fullest use of them when he drove Wagner’s delivery through the covers, leaning slightly on the front foot to sentence it to perfection. This has so far been the solitary boundary that he has struck in his lasting residence throughout the day’s play.
A man who is known to be famished for hammering those bullets showed exemplary control over his emotional paroxysms and kept on smiling throughout the day under austere situations.
One wouldn’t say that Kohli’s knock of the day was immaculate as there were a couple of instances where the Indian captain looked extremely wobbly. Colin de Grandhomme did manage to spark an appeal against the King but the ball seemed nowhere close to the bat and the line of impact would have missed the stumps on any given day.
It was de Grandhomme once again pulling the strings of destruction as he tempted Kohli into driving at an outswinger only for the Indian skipper to savour a fortunate escape.
The Indian captain consumed 44 deliveries to notch up his first ten runs, a feat that seemed customary to the likes of Dravid and ABD.
Despite getting ample deliveries from the Kiwi bowlers that came with an invitation of being smacked, he resisted driving headstrongly into those strikes.
He sat back and waited for the worst of deliveries to commit himself and kept a steady metronomic rhythm alongside Pujara. A steady partnership that was brewing between Kohli and Pujara came to an abrupt end as Boult struck gold with a peach of an inswinger.
However, the dismissal of Pujara did little to faze Kohli as he continued with his momentum-building, irrespective of the situations getting glacial with the departure of India’s most resilient batsman at the moment.
The Indian vice-captain, Ajinkya Rahane started resonating the sentiments of Kohli as he hardly showed any signs of restlessness and played a very patient knock.
Unless rain and bad light played spoilsport, India seemed to regain control of the day’s proceedings after a sedulous partnership between Rahane and Kohli as they ended the day on 146 for the loss of 3 wickets. Kohli remained unbeaten on 44 from 124 balls while Rahane scored 29 from 79 balls that saw him hammering four boundaries.
One of the most burning odes to his brilliance for today was the amount of control that Kohli displayed. On the stat-o-meter, it read a staggering 95 percent at one point in time, no mean feat for any batter in the world.
They say that captains lead from the front and today’s knock would go a long way to define why Kohli is the most deserving candidate to be a part of the pantheon of Indian captains that houses the iconic names like Saurav Ganguly, MS Dhoni and Kapil Dev.