Virat Kohli Birthday: Reliving Kohli's counter-attacking 169 at the MCG
In sports, you need certain personalities to make the game exciting and keep the crowd closely involved in it. Look at sports’ most followed and successful icons – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher – these sportspersons are not only respected for their tremendous success but also for their lively attitude and passion on the field.
If we talk about such personalities in cricket, among the names mentioned would be Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Sourav Ganguly. They are some of the strong and intimidating characters in cricket.
At present, we have one such character and that is the current Indian captain, Virat Kohli. He has the unique ability to fight fire with fire and isn’t one who would back away from challenges. Born on November 5th in 1988 in Delhi, a 19-year old Virat Kohli shot into prominence after India won the Under-19 World Cup in 2008 under his captaincy. Soon he made his ODI debut in August the same year in Sri Lanka. He has constantly evolved as a batsman, as a player and as a leader as the years have gone by.
By 2011, Kohli established himself as an integral member of the ODI team but his Test career had started off poorly. Even in Australia during the 2011/12 tour, he struggled in the first few games. But the knock in Adelaide in the 4th Test revived his Test career – he scored a brilliant 116.
The 3rd Test was the Boxing Day Test at the MCG and Australia dominated once again as they plundered 530 in the first innings. In reply to the hosts’ daunting total, India were 108/2 in the first over of Day 3 when Virat Kohli strode out to bat. 108/2 soon became 147/3. But what followed was a magnificent counter-attack.
A counter-attack which Australia never expected.
Virat Kohli along with Ajinkya Rahane braved it out to battle fire with fire. Three years later, Kohli was back in Australia. This time he was leading India for the first time in Tests (in the 1st Test at Adelaide) as Dhoni was ruled out with a hand injury.
And the way he started was phenomenal. Twin centuries (115 and 141) in the first Test set the tone for the series. The 141 came on the fifth day chasing 364. But India fell short and lost the Test match by 48 runs. They also lost the next Test at the Gabba, thus trailing 2-0.
Kohli and Rahane were up against Johnson. Remember, Johnson had bullied England just a year ago (with 37 wickets in 5 games) and looked in very good form in Brisbane as well. Not only with the ball, there was a verbal contest going on as well.
There was constant chatter by the Aussie fielders and the bowlers. And Kohli is the kind of player who will give it back. The more you sledge, the better he performs. And it was the exact case here.
Johnson was always in Kohli’s face, but the latter didn’t budge. He always had a reply. Australia tried to bounce him out but he dismantled Australia’s spearhead breathtakingly because he refused to be either bullied or quietened by the short ball.
Every bouncer was treated as an opportunity to score and, even when they were not being hit to the fence, the deliveries were being tapped down for singles. Rahane followed a similar (attacking) but a more subdued approach.
In fact, there was a time when the second new ball just nine overs old, and the field set for the bouncer trap, Kohli produced three consecutive pull shots for three boundaries evading all the fielders. In that period, Johnson was taken for 31 runs in 3 overs and Kohli had scored 68 runs off 72 delivers he faced off Johnson in that innings.
No bowler was spared as along with Rahane, the Indian vice-captain scored at a very good rate : almost 4 runs an over in their mammoth 262-run partnership. Australia tried everything but nothing seemed to work against Kohli as he scored a fabulous 169 (his 9th Test ton and 5th against Australia). This was also his first 150+ score in Test cricket.
The special thing about this knock was the way he countered the Aussie pace attack and the constant sledging and chatter. He took it in his stride, countered it well and replied in the best way possible and that was with the bat. This 169 helped India reach 465 (although from 407/3 they collapsed), it reduced Australia’s lead to 65.
Kohli provided soul and substance to India’s young and a bit inexperienced top order – scoring big runs not only in the MCG Test but throughout the series – he scored 4 hundreds in the 4-match series. Also, he scored the most runs by any visiting Indian batsman in Australia and ended the series with 692 runs.