Chants of ‘Kohli…Kohli’ rent the air as he resumed strike on Day Two. A packed Sunday crowd wanted the skipper to do something special.
On Sunday, the show came on a sluggish wicket that offered the bowlers just enough to dissuade batsmen from hitting through the line. Kohli, however, adapted to the conditions, curbing his natural instinct and yet finding a way to pace the knock for maximum impact.
On Saturday, he had overcome a statistical hurdle, which had seen him go without a ton in 17 innings at home. On Sunday, he became the first Indian batsman to score two double centuries as skipper. Not only did he manage the expectations of his fans, he also set the team on course for a clean sweep, a thirst he admits is non-negotiable.
In the 17 Tests he has captained the side, Kohli averages over 55 and has scored six centuries. In his maiden Test as captain, against Australia in 2014, he scored hundreds in both innings. And, in terms of results, he has lost just two games.
For Kohli, the challenges are great, unlike some past batting greats who were either fine batsmen or good skippers. Sachin Tendulkar stayed away from captaincy after burning his fingers twice. Sourav Ganguly, arguably India’s most successful captain, never had to bear the weight of being the team’s best player, much like MS Dhoni. Rahul Dravid made an impact as skipper and batsman though his tenure was relatively brief.
Kohli has the dual responsibility of leading the side and be the best batsman. So far, he seems to be managing both adroitly. The double ton on Sunday was a great example of how he performed both tasks to perfection.
India were precariously placed at 60 for 2 when the captain came to the crease. It was Kohli’s ability and astute batsmanship along with Ajinkya Rahane that ensured India not just recovered but went on to dominate the opposition. He came up with a similar performance in Antigua recently, scoring 200 and helping India declare with a 550-plus score.
Kohli’s journey began in 2008 when he made his one-day debut. A Test call-up came in 2011. Since then, he has wowed us with his aggressive brand of cricket. Along the way, he was handed the reins of the team, but the responsibility has hardly affected his own performance; in fact, it appears to have added fresh layers to his craft.
He plays with responsibility. The fact that he did not take the aerial route did suggest a cautious approach, but he compensated for it with 20 fours. Kohli’s insistence on making home advantage count has meant spin-friendly or slow wickets. Till now, it was only the bowlers the team would rely upon. Kohli has shown a way to adapt to such conditions and deliver.