Soon after the players shook hands following the exciting draw with scores level in the final Test at the Wankhede stadium on Saturday, India coach Duncan Fletcher gave Virat Kohli a pat on the back, more to say ‘never mind’ than ‘well done’.
One of India’s most promising young batsmen had, after all, scored his second fifty of the match and steadied the ship after a mini-collapse in the middle order to push towards the victory target of 243 and complete a series whitewash. Had he not thrown his wicket away towards the fag end of the match, India, in all likelihood, wouldn’t have fallen short by a run.
On Thursday, after scoring his maiden fifty during India’s first innings, Kohli had said he had a lot to learn at the highest level. And Saturday presented a moment as Kohli was lured into a false stroke by West Indies skipper Darren Sammy’s delaying tactics.
With Kohli, who was taking singles at will, set to seal the deal for India along with R Ashwin, India required 19 runs off five overs. That was when Sammy, who had been limping all day, asked for treatment on the field.
While the break didn’t really appear to have done any good for Sammy's leg, it certainly did for his team as the first ball after the interval, Kohli top-edged a cut shot off leggie Devendra Bishoo to a virtually one-legged Sammy. Though the false stroke that led to his dismissal didn’t take away all credit from the knock that helped Kohli achieve his personal best in his four Tests so far, it exposed India's tail and it faltered when it came to crossing the line.
Skipper MS Dhoni hoped Kohli would avoid such a mistake in future. “It is a learning phase for everyone, not only for him. You of course learn a lot from these games, so the next time, in a same situation, he may bat in a different way,” he said.
“Even the most experienced players tend to make these types of mistakes. There is nothing to worry about. But if you learn from each and every game, that really improves you as a cricketer. I am hoping he learns a lot.”