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Is Virat Kohli the ultimate fanboy of Indian cricket?

by Gaurav Sethi

India started the series with Amit Mishra. India ended the series with Amit Mishra. In between was an off-spinner. In between was Jayant Yadav.
Jayant Yadav, the missing link between India and victory. Jayant Yadav, the soon-to-be-forgotten final plunge that made the last nail dig deep into England’s coffin.
Jayant gave India extended control while he gave Ashwin and Jadeja extended breaks. He was beyond the numbers, he was that reassurance that all’s going to remain unwell for England.
Often that reassurance meant a wicket very early in the spell. Right up there in the series will be that moment when Kohli reviewed a Jayant Yadav appeal. Not the double hundred, not the series’ win, that moment was the moment for Kohli. It was a guttural “YESSSS!” so deep from Kohli’s Delhi it didn’t need an expletive.
That moment was belief in instinct, in Jayant Yadav, in his men on the field. In himself. A review-gone-right can do that. Right there you could see that for Virat to hold himself together at the crease, he has to let himself go on the field.
That in spite of being captain, he has no qualms being one of the crazy boys. His leadership is about an almost yin and yang balance between the two Virats. That he sees its worth, knows its worth and seizes it for all it is worth is the icing on the extra creamy pineapple cake that he possibly loved at those DilliBir’day parties.
Moeen Ali strolled down the wicket with his pad meeting the ball halfway. Not something you’d review, not something a debutant would review. Jayant Yadav wanted it. It was reviewed. It was given. Jayant’s first Test wicket, with Kohli acting like it was his first Test wicket.
Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav, all three played together in three Tests this series. Ashwin bowled 167 overs for his 24 wickets. Jadeja 175 overs for his 13 wickets, Jayant 81 overs for his 9 wickets. (Of course, even more than the wickets, Jadeja’s miserly economy rates make him the Test bowler he is. That and his never-ending appeals, often swaying umpires, often swaying Kohli.)
Ashwin and Jadeja batted before Jayant but scored much less than him. While Ashwin scored 137 runs, Jadeja made 129 runs and Jayant knocked 221 runs coming in at No 9. In those 221 runs was his first Test hundred, one he scored with Kohli at the other end.
The hundred came after Virat’s double hundred, it was obvious which meant more to the Indian captain. Virat started to celebrate even before Jayant.
Moving to the present, KL Rahul on 98, single taken followed by overthrows - Virat celebrates, high-fives Rahul mid-pitch, even before they complete that 100th run. His first in India, after a lean patch of seven innings.
Almost two years ago, after scoring 3 and 1 on debut in Australia, KL Rahul was backed by his captain, Kohli, to play in the fourth Test at Sydney. What followed was a 241 run partnership between Kohil and Rahul. In that innings, Rahul scored his first Test hundred.
You don’t need to see a video recording to know who was more demonstrative on the pitch that day.
Each team has two reviews. Two are not nearly enough for Virat. He believes in each appeal as if it were an appeal to the Cricket Gods, beseeching then to GIVE-IT-OUT. For who will know better than Virat what a strong belief can achieve.
Mountains moved. From November 9 to December 20, 2016.
First published here

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