Kohli’s march to greatness continues as he topples the English challenge
At the exospheric heights of success it is really lonely and so the margin for scrutiny is vacuous. For Indian captain Virat Kohli, the standards and the barometer are not the same anymore.
Even after conquering opponents and opposing fans in cauldrons like Australia and South Africa the doubts were still abound. England was one place that was not annexed as far as batting exploits of Virat were concerned.
The microscope was pressed so much that Kohli flirted with the idea of having a pre-series preparatory stint in County cricket with Surrey. An injury shelved that plan and it was probably going to be the same script as the last time in 2014. Obviously, in a characteristic bullish flourish, the captain did not read the script.
Conquering the final frontier
Virat has already amassed 440 runs in three tests with two centuries, the highest by an Indian captain in a Test series in England. As India orchestrated a historic comeback in the series with a victory at Trent Bridge, Kohli defied the odds and self-doubts with an imperious century and an equally gritty 97.
Breaking the record held by Mohammad Azharuddin, 426 runs in the 3-Test series in 1990, Kohli set straight his poor record from 2014 which languished at an average of 13.40 over 10 innings with a top score of 39.
His 149 in the first Test at Edgbaston made Kohli only the second Indian captain to score a hundred in his first Test innings as captain in England after Mohammad Azharuddin (121) in 1990. The final barrier stands breached.
Kohli had already usurped the battling conditions of three of the Big 4, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Now in total, he averages over 50 runs per innings in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England.
In 2014, he scored twin hundreds in his debut as Test captain at the Adelaide Oval with 115 in the first innings, the fourth Indian to score a hundred on Test captaincy debut. His 141 in the second innings is widely considered the best fourth innings’ batsmanship by an overseas player in Australia.
He went onto become the first batsman in Test cricket history to score three hundreds in his first three innings as Test captain. A staggering total of 692 runs in four Tests is still the highest by any Indian batsman in Australia.
In overseas Tests, he holds a host of records. Kohli became the first captain to notch up 200+ runs in a win on seven different occasions, toppling the Australian duo of Sir Don Bradman and Ricky Ponting, both at six.
The previous six occasions came on home soil save the one against West Indies in 2016. For India, only MS Dhoni has replicated the feat that too once, against Australia at Chennai. Virat has scored 200 or more runs as captain ten times in total, also an unmatched feat.
He is the first Indian captain to hit a double-century outside the Indian subcontinent. He is also the first Test captain to score centuries in each game of a three-match Test series and the first batsman to score six double hundreds as a captain. He has the most Test centuries for an Indian captain, an incredible 12. In 2017, he scored 11 centuries – the most by a captain in a calendar year.
All of the personal feats would be not as glorious if the team still failed to produce results. It is a team sport after all.
India reached the summit and claimed the Test Championship mace in October 2016. The ambition, as Kohli pronounced, was to stay at the top by clinching Test series away from the comforts of dusty and spinning tracks in the subcontinent.
England leads the current series 2-1 and India is vying to become the first team since Bradman's Australia to win a five-match series after being 2-0 down. The Don squad achieved the feat in 1937.
India has previously won Test series three times in England. The first being in 1971, then 2-0 in 1986 and 1-0 in 2007. The Test match victory at Nottingham was India’s seventh test win in England in sixty attempts.
Virat has also become India’s second most successful test captain ever with his 22nd test win in his 38th test match. MS Dhoni tops that list with 27 victories out of 60 tests.
India lost 2-1 in South Africa and need to win in both Australia (never done by an Indian team) and England to etch their and their captain’s name in the annals of Test cricket. The tour of South Africa earlier this year, current tour of England and a four-Test series in Australia in December can define Kohli’s legacy as India’s greatest Test captain.