India will be taking on the England cricket team in the second of the five-match Test series at Vizag on Thursday. While the match is expected to be an exciting one as both the teams look evenly poised, the fans will be looking forward to a special performance from Indian skipper Virat Kohli, for he will be playing the 50th Test match of his career.
He will become only the 28th Indian cricketer to achieve this feat when he steps on to the field tomorrow.
For a man who broke into the international arena after leading the Indian under-19 side to World Cup in 2008, the journey towards breaking into the Indian Test team wasn't an easy one as the team boasted some of the greats of the game like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag back then.
However, the dashing right-hander never let down his confidence as he continued to pile up runs in the limited formats of the game and even did well in the first-class matches. The aggressive yet balanced cricketer finally broke into the Test side in 2011. The man might not have a great journey into his 50th Test match, but it surely is a respectable one.
#1 Tests 1-10
Kohli made his debut on 20th June 2011 against West Indies at Sabina Park in West Indies. He didn't have a great debut as the right-hander managed scores of just 4 and 15 in the two innings. He failed to make a mark in the series and ended up with just 56 runs in two matches. A failure to impress in the debut series saw Kohli being dropped for the subsequent Test series against England.
However, the selectors couldn't keep him off for a long time as his run-fest in the limited formats earned him a Test recall in the same year. Kohli, slowly yet steadily, was making a mark.
The batsman, at the end of his tenth Test match, had two centuries and four half-centuries under his belt, with the notable one being his Test century against Australia at Adelaide in 2012.
#2 Tests 11-20
A steady start to his Test career meant that Kohli became a regular part of the Test team, which by now, was witnessing some drastic changes following the departure of some of the legends of Indian cricket.
The Delhi-batsman was expected to take up the responsibility of leading the Indian batting and rightly so, for India was scheduled to play numerous Test series’ in 2013. Though he went on to record two half-centuries and two centuries, it didn't turn out to be a year worth remembering for Kohli as he could not make a great impact for the Indian team in the next ten matches.
Kohli's dismal performances in some of the Test matches did no good to Indian cricket either as the national team went on to lose a home Test series against England.
#3 Tests 21-30
The period between December 2013 to January 2015 proved to be a nightmare for the Indian cricket team as the Test team suffered humiliation in Australia and England. Apart from the Test series against England, it turned out to be one great season for Kohli as the man proved to be the backbone of the Indian batting line-up in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
He registered a century and a half-century against the Proteas and maintained an average well over 50 throughout the series. His performances were replicated in New Zealand as well for he garnered another century against the Kiwis.
However, his good run of form couldn't continue for long as his weakness outside off-stump was exposed by the English bowlers during India's tour of England in 2014. Kohli could only manage just over 130 runs in the five-match Test series.
The critics started questioning his technique as he was frequently dismissed by away swinging deliveries. However, a break before India's tour to Australia changed the fortunes for the chase-master.
He was handed the captaincy in the opening Test at Adelaide following an injury to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He justified the selectors' faith in him and went on to register a century in each innings of the first Test against Australia in December 2014.
The match proved to be a decisive one for Kohli as he came back with a strong statement.
#4 Tests 31-40
The century in both innings of the Adelaide Test match was just the beginning of the rise of the new-age Kohli. The cricketer showed signs of maturity and didn't let his aggressive side make the headlines.
He went on to display some great performances Down Under which eventually landed him the Test captaincy on a permanent basis on 27th December following Dhoni's sudden retirement. He took over the role and showed signs of an efficient leader.
Kohli’s century at Sydney in January 2015 meant that he became the first cricketer to score three centuries in his first three innings as Test captain. He went on to lead India to Test series victories against Sri Lanka and South Africa in that year.
He was equally good with the bat as he registered three centuries and two half centuries between his 31st Test match and the 40th.
#5 Tests 41-49
Having played close to 40 Tests and led the side in almost 9 Test matches meant that Kohli had got the taste of what it was like to lead one of the dominant forces of cricket.
While he continued to pile up runs, questions were raised regarding his ability to lead the side in overseas conditions. He got his first overseas assignment of captaining the side for an entire series in 2016 against West Indies. The right-hander couldn't have asked for a better script as he went on to record his maiden double hundred in Tests. The team won its first overseas series under Kohli in West Indies.
The Delhi-batsman continued his good run of form in the home series against New Zealand and recorded another double century in October at Indore. His last nine Test matches have been pretty impressive for he has recorded two double hundreds and couple of scores in the 40s.
While the Indian fans would like to see Kohli celebrate his 50th Test with a personal milestone, the skipper would certainly be satisfied with a win under his belt.