It was no surprise to see Virat Kohli choose not to enforce the follow on when he had the option of doing so. This has become a trend in the last few years. Perhaps, the origin can be traced to the Kolkata Test in 2001 when India staged an astonishing turnaround against Australia.
Virat’s was a sensible decision because it gave India the chance to completely bat South Africa out of the contest. That’s precisely what India have done now. There were a few hiccups along the way, but Virat couldn’t have chosen a more opportune moment to return to run-scoring ways.
He must be hurting at not being able to make a substantial contribution with the bat for most of the series. To be still sitting on a series win would have been extremely satisfying, but the proud man that he is, he must have been desperate to leave his imprint. That he has done so with panache reiterates, like it did in Ajinkya Rahane’s case, that while form might be temporary, class is permanent.
Virat was positive without being reckless, dominant without taking undue chances. The let-off in the shape of a dismissal off a no-ball steeled him further, and some of the strokes he played on a surface that didn’t encourage stroke-play were breathtaking.
In Rahane, he found the perfect foil. Generally, a batsman coming off a century in the first innings looks to dominate the bowling in the second. To Rahane’s credit, he assumed the role of the anchor, happy to bat in Virat’s shadow.
His solidity gave Virat the confidence to kick on, which is why having gone through an entire series without no centuries from either side, we find ourselves in a situation where Virat is within three strokes of becoming the second centurion of this match.
Both Virat and Rahane will acknowledge the role of Ravindra Jadeja in putting India in this current position of strength. Question marks have always hung over Jadeja since his Test debut, but with his performances in this series, I am sure those doubts will have been dispelled, at least when it comes to his role in the subcontinent. With Jadeja, there has been no middle path. When he succeeds, he does so spectacularly and likewise, when he doesn’t come off, he can be quite disappointing. But in this series, both with bat and ball, he has shown a consistency that is commendable.