Virat Kohli bullied the ball past Samuels for his first boundary. It was the 30th over. For 30 overs before that, except for a handful of snorters that flew past Dhawan’s nostrils, nobody bullied anybody. Gabriel’s snorters were followed by a wave of sleepy medium pace, spin and more spin. It was the first day of a Test. It was still very much a waiting game.
Till the 30th over. Virat was done with waiting. Waiting for two hours before lunch. Waiting for four balls after lunch. He walked out to the middle, and just like that the game changed.
Virat doesn’t chew gum. Virat doesn’t have Sir Vivivian Richards’ swagger. Yet there he was at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium, right under Sir Vivian Richards’ nose, doing a Sir Vivian Richards. Sort of. In intent, even if not so much in delivery. Virat Kohli, much like Viv Richards, is not just his own man - he is the man.
And yet again, here he was, playing with the boys. Almost from memory, almost with the same Virat mechanics of bossing the ball through the covers, past midwicket, a single here, a two there, boundary upon boundary, scoring in waves of runs, drowning the Windies.
Virat was walking on air. Sir Vivian Richards was on air. Everyone else was grounded.
39 overs later at around 1:30 am IST, Virat sent India to sleep with his 100th run. Just like that. You had seen his celebration. Was there any point in staying awake? It was a near empty stadium. There was no Sachin to bow to. There were no flying kisses. It was his 12th Test century. Just another day in the year that has bowed down to Virat Kohli.
Come Day two, Virat’s first Test double hundred will be calling out to him. Tons of runs will be begging to be scored by him. This series has the makings of monster Virat. His greed for big runs in T20s and ODIs could finally come full circle in Test cricket. A highest score of 169 against today’s bowling attacks on today’s pitches, heresy.
Bigger scores, better results will mean more control over team tactics and selections. An already outspoken Virat could become an all-powerful captain – one who doesn’t just ask for players to be picked but demands his men make it to the playing eleven. Already the inclusion of Amit Mishra over Ravindra Jadeja is a step in that direction.
Next, expect the pressure for picking KL Rahul over Cheteshwar Pujara to mount. Also not too far flung to expect Rohit Sharma to push for a spot (in the middle order) instead of one of the openers. In Virat’s India, every player in the eleven is on notice. Yet every player also has the backing of the captain.
This series could be far more defining for Kohli as a captain than a batsman. The batsman is now, as he has been in the last few months, in cruise control. Whereas Kohli the captain is still stitching together a new alliance with a new coach.
The first day of the series went rather well: win toss, bat, score a century, remain unbeaten. Possibly tougher days ahead. How Kohli and Kumble pull it together will define this team. And extend their joint venture beyond the one year it has been given.
It’s up to Virat who he wants to be. The world is waiting. And it appears Virat is in a hurry.
First published here