Virat Kohli Birthday: SK Elite - Reliving Kohli's record-breaking 235 in Mumbai
England were at the receiving end of the finest Test knock of Kohli's career thus far.
From 60 Test matches thus far, Virat Kohli has scored 4658 runs at an average of 49.55. The most pertinent aspect of his numbers stems from a penchant for scoring big runs once set. As against 14 fifties, the right-hander has scored 17 centuries until now. Two of those came against England in an extremely important series during the 2016/17 home season.
The setting carried a fascinating context. After enduring a shockingly poor series on England shores in 2014, there was immense scrutiny on Kohli's prowess against the red-ball by the relentless British press. However, he managed to win them over by playing the starring role in India's euphoric 4-0 series triumph against Alastair Cook's team.
During the pivotal fourth Test at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Kohli not only pummelled England into submission but also broke his predecessor MS Dhoni's record of the highest individual score by an Indian captain. As the Delhi dasher turns 29 this Sunday, let us relive the finest Test knock of his career thus far.
Middle-order collapse leaves India in shaky ground
Riding on the back of a game-changing spell from ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, India were able to halt England's first-innings charge to 400. The home team's batting lineup had their task cut out. Even though the surface remained conducive to shot-making, having to bat last would not be a straightforward task. A sizeable first-innings lead was imperative.
Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara laid a solid platform the middle-order by putting on a 105-run partnership for the second wicket. When the innings appeared to progress smoothly, the Saurashtra strongman inexplicably shouldered arms to a straighter delivery. With his team still 254 runs adrift of the visitors' first-innings total, Kohli walked into the arena amidst raucous cheers.
In tandem with the classy Vijay, the Indian skipper kept the England bowlers at bay and began to get acquainted to the even pace of the pitch. After bringing up a sublime century and forming one part of another three-figure partnership, the Tamil Nadu opener suffered a lapse in concentration which allowed the tourists to get back into the contest.
A slew of wickets ensued to leave India in a precarious position. A couple of those came from the unlikely source of Joe Root who had stepped into Cook's shoes for a brief span of time. With the track now beginning to offer sharp turn, the spinners were also extracting extra bounce to plant seeds of doubts in the minds of the batsmen.
King Kohli takes center stage
Even as his batting partners kept deserting him at the other end, Kohli was continuing on his merry way. He used his supple wrists and manoeuvred the ball to offset even aptly laid field placements. The right-hander brought up his 15th Test century to delight the partisan crowd.
However, India had still not crossed England's first-innings total even as only three wickets remained at their disposal. Jayant Yadav, who was playing just the third Test of his fledgling career, joined hands with his captain to take the match in a completely different direction.
With Cook reluctant to take the new-ball for fear of conceding runs, the duo used the opportunity to establish the foundation for a massive partnership. Kohli continued to be unforgiving off Adil Rashid's extravagantly tossed up deliveries. If the leg-spinner pitched even a fraction short, he ruthlessly pounced on the vagaries in length to find the boundary on a regular basis.
England only made matters worse for themselves by dropping crucial catches. Jayant survived a reprieve as well as some nervous moments with the Decision Review System (DRS) to provide able assistance to the rampaging Kohli. A majestic drive from the Indian skipper lifted his Test average to over fifty. He had become the first batsman in the history of the game to possess a batting average of above fifty in all three formats simultaneously.
England wilt under Mumbai heat
During the first over of the fourth day's play, Kohli crossed the 150-mark with a delightful on-drive. Meanwhile, at the other end, Jayant was growing in confidence. The all-rounder took a liking to Rashid's inconsistency and reeled off a bevy of boundaries. As India's lead gradually inched into three figures, the fielders' shoulders began to droop. England were reeling under the unrelenting assault from the well-set batsmen.
Overhauling the unforgettable stand between Mohammad Azharuddin and Anil Kumble in the 1996 Kolkata Test, the burgeoning partnership between Kohli and Jayant became an Indian record for the 8th wicket.
The Indian skipper proceeded to bring up his third double century in as many Test series in 2016. Jayant completed a landmark of his own by becoming the first Indian to score a Test century from number nine in the batting lineup.
Records began to tumble one after another as Kohli attained the highest ever score by any Indian captain in Test cricket. When he was finally dismissed by Chris Woakes for 235, the dashing batsman had propelled his team past the 600-run mark and the accompanying massive first-innings lead.
With plenty of runs to play with, Ashwin scythed through England's batting lineup to deliver a series-sealing triumph for India in Mumbai. The hosts would subsequently go to turn the 3-0 lead into a 4-0 series victory in Chennai. Even though Kohli himself rated the final day century in the 2014 Adelaide Test as a better Test knock, there is very little doubt that his match-winning double ton at the Wankhede Stadium carried a much bigger impact.