After the fourth Test ended in a draw with India winning the four-match series 2-1 to take the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the fourth time in a row, India head coach Rahul Dravid asked Virat Kohli about his feelings of not being able to score a century for such long time in red-ball cricket.
Virat Kohli nudged a Nathan Lyon delivery to the onside and set off for a single. Even before he reached halfway through the other end, the crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad resorted to thunderous cheers and applause. The social media frenzies quickly sprang into action. Their drafted tweets on a Virat Kohli Test hundred finally landed on the timeline. Aware of all this in his subconscious mind, Kohli quietly took his helmet off, kissed his engagement ring dangling on a locket and raised his bat. It was not a celebration that justified the wait of 1205 days, 24 Tests and 42 innings for a hundred in the toughest format of the game. Or in a way it did.
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When you are Virat Kohli, not scoring a century for more than three years in the format you rate as the best is bound to play on your mind. Add to that the discomfort of your average plummeting to a never-before-seen low of 29 with only six half-centuries in 24 Tests since December 2019, it becomes almost impossible to bear. Former India head coach Ravi Shastri put it aptly by saying a “600kg gorilla is off his back now” when Kohli reached the three-figure mark on Day 4 of the fourth Test against Australia.
The new decade has not been the best for Virat. He has seen lows he perhaps would never have imagined as a batter. But every time, he has bounced back, in every format and in every situation. By ending his century drought in Test cricket, he completed the cycle.
The fact that Kohli’s mammoth 186-run knock also ensured Team India surpassed Australia’s first innings total of 480 and took a lead to put the pressure back on them, would give more satisfaction to Kohli.
After the fourth Test ended in a draw with India winning the four-match series 2-1 to take the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for the fourth time in a row, former India captain and current head coach Rahul Dravid asked Kohli about his feelings of not being able to score a century for such long time in red-ball cricket.
“I know you are someone who takes a lot of pride in his performance and has that habit of scoring 100 regularly. I know there was COVID, so, not a lot of Test matches but has it been hard not to have scored a Test hundred (for this long)? I know we get a little obsessed with numbers. I’ve loved seeing some of the other innings. Even the 70 in Cape Town was a really good innings. But has (not scoring a hundred) been at the back of your mind?” Dravid asked in an interview for BCCI.tv.
Kohli, who has been batting well in the entire series without a big score till the fourth Test, said he is never happy with the 40s or 50s.
“Honestly, I’ve let the complications grow on me a bit because of my shortcomings. The desperation to get to the three-figure mark is something that can grow on you as a batsman. I let that happen to me to a certain extent. But a flip side to it is, I’m not a guy who is happy with 40-45. I take a lot of pride in performing for the team. It’s not like when Virat Kohli should stand out. When I’m batting on 40, I know I can get a 150. That was eating me up a lot. Why am I not able to get that big score for the team? Because I took pride in the fact that when the team needed me, I stood up, scoring in difficult conditions. The fact that I wasn’t able to do that, was bothering me,” He said.
It was Kohli’s 28th Test hundred, 75th overall and 14th at home that took him past Virender Sehwag, Dilip Vengsarkar and Mohammad Azharuddin. But Kohli said it is never about the milestone.
“It was never about the milestones. A lot of people ask me, ‘how do you keep scoring those hundreds’. And I always say a hundred is something that happens along the way within my goal, which is to bat as long as possible for my team. But yeah, if I’m brutally honest, it does become a little difficult as the moment you step out of the hotel room, right from the guy outside, to the guy in the lift, the bus driver everyone is saying ‘we want a hundred’. So, it does play on your mind all the time but that’s also the beauty of playing for so long to have these complications come up and overcome these challenges,” he said.