One of India’s best batters ever performed an inning that caused people to reflect on different eras.
In Adelaide eleven years ago, Virat Kohli aggressively drove Peter Siddle to the off-side and dashed to the other end while shouting at Ben Hilfenhaus with every stride. So consumed by his outburst, he momentarily overlooked two important details: the possibility of an overthrow and the fact that he had just scored his first Test century. Only upon hearing Ishant Sharma’s call did he finally turn his attention to the game and unleash his pent-up frustration before allowing himself to revel in his accomplishment.
As he ripped off his helmet midway through the second run, the ensuing celebration was equally filled with anger and profanity. Such was the nature of every Kohli celebration back then, brimming with west-Delhi machismo.
When Virat Kohli achieved his 28th Test century by playing a flicked single, his response was quite different. Gone were the angry outbursts and foul language that characterized his earlier celebrations. Instead, he calmly removed his helmet and acknowledged his teammates in the dressing room with a grateful smile. He then placed his gloves and helmet down and retrieved a chain from around his neck. Kohli proceeded to kiss the wedding ring that hung from the chain, reminiscent of Frodo Baggins. In every manner, he now represents less of his West Delhi roots and more of the sophistication associated with Mumbai’s western beachfront.
You couldn’t help but be struck by nostalgia as you witnessed Kohli’s most recent century and thought back to the raging, foul-mouthed celebrations of his youth. You admitted, however, that your own age and perspective may have something to do with this sentiment. In terms of cricket, Virat Kohli may believe that the 11 years that passed between his centuries in Adelaide and Ahmedabad have prematurely advanced his age. It may have seemed as though time has been extended even further over the last few years in particular. Before this one, Kohli’s previous Test century occurred in November 2019, before COVID-19 became widely known. Since then, he has played in 23 Tests and 41 innings, averaging 25.70, and his total Test average has fallen from 54.97 to 48.12. Despite batting beautifully at times during this period, he had failed to reach three figures. In the Delhi Test just before this one, he had played an inning of 44 that was as impressive as any century.
Despite Kohli’s lack of hundreds in recent years, it’s important to consider the challenging era of Test cricket he has played in. The bowling attacks have become stronger, and the pitches have become more difficult, making it harder for batters to score runs. Therefore, even though his average has dropped from 54.97 to 48.12, it’s still an impressive feat considering the circumstances.
It’s true that the nature of Test cricket has changed over time, with more results and fewer draws in recent years. This could be attributed to a variety of factors, including changes in pitch preparation and the increased quality and depth of bowling attacks. While it’s possible to find examples of potent bowling attacks and challenging pitches from past generations, the overall trend in Test cricket does seem to support the argument that the modern era is more bowler-dominated. This is reflected in the difficulty that even great batsmen like Virat Kohli and Ashish Pujara have faced in scoring runs and recording centuries in recent times.
As Kohli steadily accumulated runs, the atmosphere was tense and electric, reminiscent of classic Test matches from the past. It was a battle of attrition, with neither side giving an inch. As he approached his hundred, the tension grew palpable, and the sense of relief and elation was almost overwhelming when he finally reached the milestone. It was a reminder of the beauty and drama of Test cricket, a sport that can still produce moments of pure magic even in a time when other forms of cricket dominate the landscape.
Virat Kohli didn’t do anything special besides strike out, taking in any runs that came his way. Before he struck his first boundary of the day, which was hit off a Mitchell Starc full-toss, he had advanced from 59 off 128 balls overnight to 102 off 250.
The side batting second was still playing its first innings on day four of an old-fashioned Test match on a flat pitch. Many Test games like this were played by famous Indian batsmen in the past. India in the time of Virat Kohli? Not at all.
To achieve a test hundred, even on the flattest of surfaces, you need to bat exceptionally well. A little bit of luck is still required. On day three, Todd Murphy could have bowled Shubman Gill through the gate or flicked him onto Starc. The Murphy ball bouncing over the stumps and the Starc ball missing a leg stump were both lucky breaks for him.
On a different day, Rohit Sharma’s cocky uppercut might have missed the short extra cover. A ball that turned sharply enough to miss a thigh stump may have caused the error in judgment that resulted in Pujara being LBW to Murphy. Both appeared to be headed for ratings between 35 and 42.