Four years ago, Virat Kohli arrived at Adelaide as the youngest member of the Indian team. The team looked battered and bruised, but this young lad managed to hold his own and scored his first ever Test hundred in trying conditions. Australia is known to be an assignment that changes boys into men. And that's what that century did to Kohli.
India's Rohit Sharma walks back after being dismissed by Nathan Lyon on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Four years later, he came back to the same venue as the captain of the side, albeit temporarily, starting out from where he'd left. In fact, has gone a step further. The century in 2011 was good but the two he scored in this Test match were of a different level, especially the second one.
After Australia managed a sizeable lead in the first innings, the morale of the Indian team started deteriorating faster than the Adelaide pitch. Once again, it was about when the Australians would declare. A win for the hosts was a matter of when and not if.
The last day of the Test match started with India needing 364 runs in 98 overs. The talk was only about surviving those 98 overs, for nobody gave India a chance of going for the target. How wrong we were! India led by Kohli went after the target till the very end and even though they fell a little short eventually, they won a lot of hearts.
Before the tour began, Kohli spoke of hope — and that it means nothing to him, for he thinks that in order to achieve something you must believe that you're capable of doing so. And that he believed India could win a Test match in Australia was made unambiguous from the first ball bowled. His belief not only manifested in the way he batted, but that 'belief' also rubbed off to his entire team. They did go down but not without a fight.
One of the most striking features of his batting was the fact that he swept Nathan Lyon with a lot of authority. He isn't a natural sweeper of the ball. In fact, I have seen him play only two versions of the sweep shot — the paddle sweep and the slog sweep.
At Adelaide, he brought out the old conventional flat-batted sweep towards square-leg and forced Lyon on the defensive. One would think that he must have practiced that shot in the nets, for his execution was flawless but in the post-match interview he admitted that while he hadn't practiced the shot much, he had the belief that he'll be able to pull it off. He did.
While Kohli looks well set on the path of greatness, some of the other members of the team are finding the distance between 'potential' and 'performance' too long to cover. That must hurt them, for that's hurting Team India too. A positive result in Adelaide would've changed the course of this Test series like it did in 2003.
Since that hasn't happened and the tour is moving forward to more Australia-friendly venues, it's going to be a Herculean task for this young group to finish with a scoreline that's different from the last tour.
Earlier this year, the Indian team had started the tour to England positively but one loss at Southampton opened the floodgates. Once they slipped on that slippery slope, they just couldn't bounce back. Hopefully, that shouldn't be the case on this tour.
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