Virat Kohli, who was going through a lean patch in the ongoing Test series against England, roared back to form in great style with a dazzling century on Day Three of the fourth Test here on Saturday.
Kohli (103) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni led India’s spirited fightback before four quick wickets and the captain’s heartbreaking run out on 99 towards the end of the day left the match evenly poised. The Delhi dasher said this was the innings he had been waiting to play for some time. “I was waiting for this one long innings. I was working hard for the last one month. You can’t keep performing every innings and there will be ups and downs. But you need to stay positive whether you do well or not. That’s what I did,” said Kohli.
Kohli and Dhoni, resuming the day at 86 for four, bailed India out through a 198-run stand for the fifth wicket. India eventually reached 297 for eight by stumps, 33 behind England’s first innings score of 330. Play was called-off as Graeme Swann (3-76) clean bowled Piyush Chawla off the first ball in the 131st over. Pacer James Anderson (4-68) was also responsible for India’s mini collapse in the final session.
Kohli and his captain dominated for most part of the day until the Delhi batsman departed after scoring his third Test century — leg before wicket to Swann — a dismissal which reduced India to 269 for five. Though the effort of both batsmen is bound to have lifted the morale in the dressing room with two days remaining, India have a tough task at hand to level the four-match series 2-2.
Kohli’s innings was a treat to watch. Prior to the game, his top-score of the series was 20 and he found himself amongst the runs at a crucial time for his team.
“It was a very important innings. This is the one format I want to do very well in. Against New Zealand, I was in a good mindset and could get good scores straightaway. Personally, I was eager to do well in this series. Probably I got too desperate to do well,” he said. “Mentally, I was feeling really good (right through the series). I got into the 20s three times, probably got a good ball in Ahmedabad. I made a few mistakes, after that I was waiting for this one innings. I did not doubt myself at all. I was not thinking about what people were saying about me,” he added.
Kohli brought maximum joy to the crowd with his classy display of strokes on the off-side, especially his stylish cover-drives. In all, he struck 11 boundaries in his 295-ball knock.
“It was a new situation for me. I love such situations, as I can become a better player. Yes, it was pretty good to bat with MS the whole day. This century is very pleasing because of the way I played. I did not think about the runs or the number of balls I played, but only about batting. I am pretty pleased to bat for long hours. That’s something you need to know in Test matches,” said the Delhi
About his crucial partnership with skipper Dhoni, Kohli said: “We aimed to play it over by over; stretch the game as much as possible and not think about the number of runs to be scored in every session or at the end of the day. The goal was to concentrate throughout,” he said. “This is a wicket where you need to show some patience and apply yourself the whole time. The wicket has not changed much but the cracks are opening up slowly. There might be a different wicket tomorrow and the spinners might come into play,” Kohli signed off.