Long before Virat Kohli had even reached his double century, there was a poll on Star Sports – it had to do with his triple century. Anyone who was watching Kohli bat was in no doubt of the triple century. It was just a matter of time. Either before tea or after, but come it would.
On his way, there had been minor hurdles, more like irritants, the odd appeal; he had even been given out. But he reviewed it. It looked out but it couldn’t be – there was that triple for the taking. On being reviewed, the ball was missing the stumps, the umpire had to eat his decision.
However, there was this small matter that everyone was unaware of – there was no way Kohli could make a triple century, because if he did, he would have had to take the drastic step of dropping himself from the following Test match, the first against Australia.
Why? If there’s one thing that Kohli is, it’s that he’s fair to a fault. Dropping triple centurion, Karun Nair, was not an easy decision. Yet in Kohli’s mind, it was the correct call. Made to accommodate India’s middle order mainstay, vice-captain, and proven match winner, Ajinkya Rahane.
While both Kohli and Kumble had explained their reasons to Nair, this decision did not sit easily on Kohli. He admitted to being greatly pained by it, confessing to his teammates that life and cricket can be so unfair – and that dropping Nair was his toughest decision as captain.
He hoped that it did not scar Nair for life, and hoped he would play for India again, sooner rather than later. At the same time, the dressing room was abuzz with the one-off Bangladesh Test being a great opportunity for a maiden triple century – for who else but the captain.
It was then that Kohli had admitted that if he were to make a triple century, he would drop himself from the following Test match. He said, “I want to feel Karun Nair’s pain…I want to know what it feels like to dropped after scoring a triple century…it must be so deflating…yet it is also a great lesson in resilience to rise gain, to feel the crushing pain and then comeback...isn’t that what heroes are made of?”
While Virat Kohli is a man of his word, and there was no way he was not going to stick to his guns if he scored a triple century, it was on coach Anil Kumble’s insistence that there was a change in plans.
Kumble had convinced Kohli to not score a triple. This way he would not go against his word and also play the crucial first Test against Australia.
In the first innings, Kohli’s awareness, of both his batting and the DRS (Decision Review System), had been quite unsurpassed. He had already made a canny call which overturned a LBW decision. So naturally it took everyone unawares when Kohli trooped off when given out LBW with two reviews still in the bag.
How could Kohli not know the ball was pitching outside off? How could Kohli not review his key wicket, after all, an early declaration hinged on how long he batted?
Finally, it was all down to not scoring that triple century. And being fair to himself, the team and the other triple centurion, Karun Nair.
Whether Virat Kohli will ever allow himself to score a triple century nobody knows. But he was heard whispering to nobody in particular, “Maybe I’ll only score a triple in my last Test.”
Karun Nair shook his head in disbelief, as if to say, “what have I done?”
(However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)