Virat Kohli proved his batting credentials once again with a workmanlike ton in India’s World Cup 2015 opener against Pakistan in Adelaide on Sunday. Batting at his customary No. 3 position, Kohli scored 107 to anchor India’s 300 for seven after the defending champions won the toss and decided to bat.
Kohli’s form has run hot and cold in the last three months India have been in Australia. He was the batting mainstay during the four-Test series, a large portion of which he skippered due to MS Dhoni’s absence due to injury and then retirement.
The 26-year-old failed to carry his ‘Bradmanesque’ Test form into the trination ODI series that preceded the World Cup. India failed to make the final in a tournament where England were the third side. The Aussies won the trination series comfortably.
Form is temporary, class is permanent. Kohli proved his big match temperament on a massive day in world cricket. A contest against Pakistan entails more than cricket skills and how well did Kohli prove his qualities as a world class cricketer. Composure and stroke management made his innings classy.
Adelaide has been special for Kohli. He has four international centuries at the Oval and three of them have come on this current tour. “I want to wrap this ground and take it home. This has been a really special ground for me,” Kohli said after his sparkling knock on Sunday.
Kohli’s century on Sunday broke or equalled a flurry of batting records held by former Indian captains. He became the first Indian to score a century against Pakistan in a World Cup match. Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 98 off 75 balls against the Green Shirts in the 2003 World Cup at Centurion on March 1, held this record.
Kohli also became the first Indian to score a World Cup century in Australia. Mohammed Azharuddin’s 93 versus Australia in Brisbane on March 1, 1992 was the previous best. Kohli’s second World Cup century – his first was against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2011 – was his 22nd ODI ton, a number achieved by Sourav Ganguly.
No wonder then that Ganguly was all praise for Indian cricket ‘angry young’ general.
“Come the day, he delivers. What an incredible talent this boy is. He gets better day by day,” said Ganguly on TV on Sunday. “The ability to score when the team is down” speaks about his ability to take responsibility, said Ganguly.
Kohli said he worked hard in the nets to get his form back. “I tried a bit too much in the warm-up games. Today, my patience paid off. I had to play anchor role and the wicket was two-paced and not easy to bat,” Kohli said.
Dropped from a difficult chance by Yasir Shah off Shahid Afridi on seven and again by wicketkeeper Umar Akmal on 76, Kohli otherwise played within himself and gave few chances in his 126-ball innings. “Wanted to play risk-free cricket and that helped. This was a real special knock,” Kohli explained.
Pakistan legend Wasim Akram paid rich tribute to Kohli as well. “He is getting to know how to score centuries against any opposition,” the former Pakistan speedster said. That’s the hallmark of a legend in the making.
Or is he already one?