Virat Kohli has now gone a total of 41 innings across formats without an international hundred. While the drought nears 590 days, India fans should keep their worries at bay, writes Sarah Waris.
For a player who has made it a habit of waving his bat to acknowledge the mighty roars of the crowd after a well-deserved century, Virat Kohli’s barren streak without a ton almost seems somehwat unreal. The India captain, who has hit 70 international centuries since 2009, has had to impatiently wait for No.71, with his last ton coming against Bangladesh in November 2019.
Kohli once seemed right on course to be the man to break the record of 100 international hundreds that had been set by the player he idolised as a child, Sachin Tendulkar. The interruptions of the pandemic have slowed him down, however, and some of the magic has been lost, with his starts simply not resulting in that one big score to silence any lingering doubts.
Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom. For any other batsman, the lack of a big score after such a long stretch of time would be a huge worry. With Kohli, one of the game’s greats, there are fewer reasons for despair. He has missed out on hundreds, but he hasn’t really been totally out of form. It may not even be hyperbole to state that he’s looking as solid and dangerous as ever. Since his hundred against Bangladesh, Kohli has got to fifty on 17 occasions, with 12 70-plus knocks in there. He has five unbeaten fifties in this period, and he’s contributed runs when his side have desperately needed them.
His unbeaten 94 in a T20I against West Indies in December 2019 can rightly be considered one of his finest knocks in the shortest format of the game. His fine 89 off 87 against Australia at Sydney in the second ODI last November gave hope in a tough chase that was ultimately unsuccessful. He followed it up with 63 in the next game. His stand-out knock from the tour of Australia, however, was the one during the pink-ball Test in Adelaide, where Kohli looked determined during his 74 off 180 deliveries after India had lost quick wickets. Had he not been involved in a mix-up with Ajinkya Rahane, the drought might have come to an end there and then.
After a half-century on a mightily difficult Chennai pitch during the second Test against England earlier this year, Kohli touched down for the World Test Championship final to take on the swinging Dukes under overcast conditions.
He batted out of his crease throughout his first innings to nullify the effects of swing. He played the ball under his eyes and played it late. He leaned in towards the ball and found the gaps. According to CricViz, just 5 per cent of his runs in the first innings came in the ‘V’, and though he was eventually dismissed for 44, while he was out in the middle, India believed.
Believed that conditions could be conquered. Believed that the bowlers could be taken on. Kohli was unperturbed as bad light caused disruption and rain threatened to undermined a two-year cycle building towards this moment. He simply focused on digging deep for his team.
He was eventually sent back by Kyle Jamieson in both innings, but his knock of 44 only served to emphasise upon his excellent touch. He will get his ton. It’s only a matter of time.
Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match awards, player interviews, analysis and much more.