Ten months and as many innings – that is an aeon for Virat Kohli to go without scoring a century and so a big knock was inevitable when India took on South Africa in the second Test.
In the end, it was only fitting that he got over his “mini blip” in Tests at the venue where he has previously tasted his only defeat at home as skipper.
Virat Kohli’s seventh Test double ton oozed class in every aspect with his marathon knock filled with sparkling straight drives, trademark cover drives and rasping pull shots. The India skipper reached his 26th ton with a gentle nudge down the ground off Vernon Philander and his muted celebration clearly signalled his intentions to make it a big one.
He became the fourth quickest to score 26 Test hundreds and is only behind Don Bradman, Steve Smith and Sachin Tendulkar in that regard. He also equalled Ricky Ponting’s record for the most number of centuries as a Test captain (19). Only South Africa’s Graeme Smith has more with 25 centuries.
After the lunch break on Day Two, runs continued to flow from the Indian captain’s bat as he dug into a demoralised South African bowling attack.
There was a brief period where he did have some lapses in concentration but fortune favoured Kohli as he raced to 150 with a hat-trick of boundaries to third man, nicking left-armed spinner Keshav Maharaj agonisingly past the first-slip fielder on each occasion.
That streaky phase of play saw Kohli also set the record for the most number of 150-plus scores by any Test skipper in history(nine).
With the team placed well, the 29-year-old began to push for quick runs alongside Ravindra Jadeja and in the third over of the final session of the day, he notched his seventh double ton of his career.
As he scampered across for a double to bring up his 200, he also reached 7000 Test runs, going past Bradman’s aggregate in the process.
He is now the first Indian to score seven double hundreds and has overtaken the great Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag (six each). Shortly after raising his bat for the third time in celebration, Kohli was snaffled at slip off the bowling of Senuran Muthusamy. However, the left-arm spinner overstepped and that afforded Kohli the opportunity to reach his highest ever Test score – 254*.
The most remarkable stat of all from Kohli’s recrord-breaking spree at Pune is that he has now beaten his own highest score 15 times in his Test career.
That is the sort of record that seems more suited to a No11 batsman who hardly gets to bat. It is definitely easier for bowlers to better their previous best scores given the limited time they usually spend at the crease, with even a few runs here and there making a world of difference.
But, for a top-order batsman who amasses runs at the rate the Indian skipper does, that is quite astounding. Don Kohli indeed.
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