England vs India 2018, First Test Day 2, SK Player of the Day: Virat Kohli for his courageous ton
He should leave everything outside off stump, he will be carrying the scars slashed on him by James Anderson four years back, still susceptible on the fifth stump line, prove a point, do not prove a point, on the second day of play in the opening Test against England, Virat Kohli blocked out all the pre-series clutter that was hurled at him and in a near flawless career, checked the one missing box, a dogged Test hundred.
His 149 in a team total of 274, illustrated with 22 fours and the match's only six so far, will surely go down as one of the great efforts by an Indian on English soil.
Albeit he was dropped twice, the second time much to Dawid Malan's rue, he made most of the opportunities riding on the back of his much coveted mental toughness as he faced the uphill task of stemming the flow of wickets and not letting the runs dry up.
Coming in at 2/54, which soon turned into 3/59 as India surrendered to Sam Curran to lose their third wicket for nine runs, he not only negotiated the ongoing threat of the pinpoint Curran, he conquered the demons of the past by not letting Anderson get away with his bread and butter line of the impeccable fifth stump, as he refused to open up the face of his bat to the out-swingers and neither did he overcompensate on closing the face of his bat.
During Kohli's run spree in 2016, he was called out for having the cushion of in-form batsmen above him in the order, but this time around the batting line-up was falling apart worse than a neglected tower of Jenga being aimed at by a furious Andrew Symonds.
While the knock was characterized by grit, what stood out as a contrast to the Kohli of the past was his decisiveness when playing the quicker bowlers.
He was sure-footed even when facing the awkward testing lengths of Ben Stokes, committing fully to his drives and guiding the ball off the back foot with the utmost sense of the height of the ball and his position on the crease.
Still trailing by 187, half the side was back in the hut, but Kohli today was solely driven by the will to just be out there and out-think the bowlers, never was he successfully drawn into pseudo stroke or a false sense of security as he shed his desire to dominate and decided to get his gloves dirty instead.
As the innings progressed, so did his repertoire of the shots as he brought out the unfailing trademark whips through mid-wicket and with a sublime guide to beat deep point, he finally did it, a Test match hundred on English soil.
His pumped uproar of exhilaration after years of being haunted by the sour memories of one wretched tour, the visuals of a helpless Joe Root applauding the exploits of a once in a generation talent and the rather partisan English crowd giving an ecstatic reception were the images that defined what this century meant.
As the wickets column read nine after another mini-collapse, he turned up the intensity a notch as well. Farming the strike became a crucial feature as Umesh Yadav played just 11 balls out of the 74 balls of the partnership as the tenth wicket stand of 57 runs put England to the sword on day two after they had a strong start.
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