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Comment

Of all Kohli's feats, one performance stands out over the others

His two centuries in a Test in Australia left a lasting impression of his extraordinary skill

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
27-Aug-2023
Virat Kohli square drives, Australia v India, 1st Test, Adelaide, 3rd day, December 11, 2014

Virat Kohli in Adelaide in 2014: a Test that underlined his stature as one of the great batters  •  Getty Images

Virat Kohli succeeded Sachin Tendulkar as India's champion batter, which is appropriate: they are both generational talents.
While they are Indian icons, both etched their names in the world's consciousness by performing heroic deeds in Australia. Tendulkar did so with two marvellous centuries in Australia in 1992. The first, 148 not out at the SCG, was a brilliant knock in any terms but for a player of just 19 years, it was exceptional.
When he followed it with a brilliant 114 on the bouncy Perth pitch against a talented Australian pace attack, it ensured the name Tendulkar was going to shine brightly for years to come. A short man at such a young age was not supposed to treat renowned pace bowlers with such ease and score so prolifically off the back foot.
In 2012, with the evergreen Tendulkar still plying his trade, Kohli showed glimpses of his talent, also at the WACA ground, with a promising 44 and 75. His skilful batting against a good Australian pace attack hinted at his talent, and when he then followed it with an excellent century in Adelaide, while others around him failed, it was widely accepted he would be the next outstanding Indian batter.
Appropriately, two years later at Adelaide Oval again, the newly appointed India captain scored two sublime centuries to almost snatch a memorable victory for his side. Kohli's second-innings 141, in particular, on a pitch that encouraged spin, was a masterpiece and with a little more help from his team-mates would have resulted in a spectacular Indian victory.
Both Tendulkar and Kohli etched their names in the world's consciousness by performing heroic deeds in Australia
Just as compelling was his refusal to play for a draw. When Kohli said after the match that he felt success was more likely if he continued to bat aggressively, he won acclaim for his positive approach. A few years later when he said in a radio interview that he didn't play "fancy shots" in Test cricket because he didn't want to adversely effect his technique, it was clear he was a master batter who understood his trade. The fact that Kohli in his prime achieved the incredible feat of averaging 50 in all three forms of the game validated his theory.
While Kohli's team lost that 2014-15 series 2-0, they returned four years later to clinch an unexpected 2 -1 victory. They then confirmed their class another two years on with a similar gutsy win, though Kohli himself returned home for the birth of his first child after India's ignominious loss in the first Test of that series.
Kohli proved to be a capable captain and with hard-fought victories in Australia and England, became known as a leader for all conditions. Despite his emotional approach he succeeded as captain because the team were fully behind him and wanted to perform for their leader. Kohli's attitude in always pushing for victory from the opening delivery of a Test played a large part in engaging his team-mates.
He also endeared himself by not asking the team to do anything he wouldn't attempt himself. His fitness, shown by the intensity with which he ran between the wickets, was an example in this regard.
Despite Kohli's amazing record and his strong leadership, it was that second-innings century in Adelaide in 2014 that cemented his undoubted skill. He hit 16 fours and one six and scored at the superb rate of 80 runs per 100 balls on a pitch that suited Nathan Lyon's sharp-turning offbreaks. Kohli's ability to successfully play the cover drive - the toughest shot for a right-hander on a turning pitch - was exceptional and severely frustrated Australia's charge for victory.
Kohli will be remembered for many exceptional feats as both a batter and successful captain. However, for me it was those two innings at Adelaide Oval, especially the second one, that left a lasting impression of his extraordinary skill.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist

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