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The Adelaide masterclass that proved Virat Kohli belonged

Virat Kohli
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

On what had been a horrendous tour for India, a 23-year-old Virat Kohli stood tall amidst failures from the rest to take first strides in Test cricket.

It had been a chastening few months for India. Humbled on their travels to England and staring down the barrel of an eighth consecutive Test match loss. The knives were being rapidly sharpened.

Much of the criticism was aimed at the older heads; a perceived reluctance to move on had led to questions about the famed middle order of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman. The response to this suggestion was that there were not any viable alternatives. India were being embarrassed and nobody was able to do anything about it.

Step forward Virat Kohli. It was not as if Kohli had failed up until this point in his career, it was just that his success had been limited to matches played in coloured clothing. A World Cup winner before he had even made his five-day debut, Kohli’s Test career had not yet got going. There was a sense that India were on the decline and Kohli and his fellow youngsters needed to stand up and be counted.

In the fourth Test in Adelaide, coming in at 87-4, in response to Australia’s 604-7, Kohli pushed his chest out, dug in and fought. His innings was brave, he stood toe-to-toe with the hosts and refused to back down. The frustration on both sides was clear, the Australians had enjoyed a series in which they were not used to witnessing any evidence of an Indian backbone and Kohli’s grittiness was getting under their skin.

For Kohli’s part, he had faced calls to be dropped, had been stranded on 75 in the previous Test and had suffered at the hands of abuse from both his opponents and the crowd. He was fired up and it showed in his celebrations as he brought up his first Test ton on his way to 116.

This was different from your average kiss of the badge; Kohli was angry and seeking vindication. His celebrations showed a real pride to play for India, a belief that he belonged and a genuine passion to help move the team forward into a new era.

First published in August 2012

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