Virat Kohli is expected to be the 12th Indian to play 100 friendlies. Of the 11 men before him to reach this important career milestone, none had the ability to polarize opinions the way Kohli did in a dazzling cricket journey that began in 2008.
Virat Kohli started out as a precocious child and few ever doubted what he would one day become.
Kohli’s journey since 2011
By the time Virat Kohli played his first test, he had already started making a name for himself. Could he keep up with the longest format? As it turned out, he could.
In 2011, India were a good Test side at home but they whipped up the boys overseas. England, Australia, South Africa ruthlessly overpowered and ruled India. India’s batsmen were unable to deal with the hostility of the opposing pacers and their own pacers weren’t up to the mark – simply put, they weren’t good enough.
Virat Kohli endured many tough times in the early years of his career with the Indian Test team. In 2014, after India lost momentum and another Test series in England, Kohli felt the heat. He had played miserably with the racket and then there was the upcoming tour of Australia.
— BCCI (@BCCI) March 3, 2022
In the Australian summer of 2014-15, India’s fortunes in Test cricket changed for the better. Kohli had buried the ghosts of the past and was leading the charge with 4 outstanding hundreds and by the end of the series he had firmly established himself as the leader of the pack despite a 2-0 loss – MS Dhoni had retired mid-season in the series and the The baton has passed to a more aggressive young captain with a clear vision for the future.
Over the next few years, Virat Kohli not only continued his desire to become the best batsman in the world in all formats, he made no secret of the need to bring Test cricket back to the top. He played his heart out, scoring hundreds, double hundreds, sledding, celebrating without ever holding back and ramping up his attack of speed with a clear focus on winning streaks in England and Australia.
Admittedly, the last two years have not been the best for Virat Kohli. There hasn’t been a dry spell as some of the critics would have you believe, but what’s also true is that he hasn’t scored a hundred goals in well over two years. In addition, Kohli failed to win major world titles for India. The 2019 World Cup and 2021 Test World Cup final were missed opportunities even after India looked like the best team in both tournaments.
After Kohli resigned as India’s T20I captain, he was sacked as ODI captain and after a fairly publicized disagreement with the BCCI chief, Kohli resigned as India’s Test captain.
In a late decision, the Indian board announced that 50 per cent of the crowd would be allowed into Mohali to watch Virat Kohli perform his 100th test. This test game is settled around Kohli – the structure and the anticipation of the game are huge.
“To be honest, I never thought I would play 100 friendlies. It was a long journey. We played a lot of cricket over the course of those 100 Test matches. Many international cricket. I’m just thankful that I was God was kind, I’ve been working really hard on my fitness, it’s a big moment for me, for my family, for my coach who’s also very happy and very proud of this long test match is what concerns me,” Virat Kohli said in a video posted by BCCI.
Focus on Iyer, Gil, and Vihari
However, there are several other contexts for this test match. India will go into a friendly without Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane for the first time in ten years and that means it’s a good opportunity for at least two other young racquets to cement their places.
Two of Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill join the roster. All three have valid claims to get into this final XI. Hanuma was a warrior for India in overseas friendly matches. Shreyas Iyer scored a hundred on his debut, followed by half a century as India struggled against New Zealand, while Gill has already scored a couple of significant strikes, most notably and including a 91 in the gabba in a historic win for India.
The bowling unit looks stable as ever and with R Ashwin ready to resume his duties he should link up with Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.
Pant returns to play XI
Rested for the T20I series against Sri Lanka, Rishabh Pant will return to the eleven in 6th place. This is a full strength Indian squad even without KL Rahul. Mayank Agarwal, who will partner Rohit Sharma in the opening slot, had scored a big hundred in the last Test India, played at home.
Sri Lanka will have his task cut out and after losing in the T20I series, they want to present themselves much better in the test matches.
Rohit Sharma welcomes Virat Kohli
India captain Rohit Sharma hailed Virat Kohli’s brilliant journey as a Test cricketer and said the Indian team will try to make his 100th Test match at Mohali special for him.
“It’s been a long journey for him, and it’s been a wonderful one. He’s done exceptionally well in this format, he’s changed so many things in the way the team moves forward. It’s been a hell of a ride for him and will be for years to come,” Rohit said during a virtual press conference.
“We definitely want to make it special for him. Let’s hope we have a good five days of cricket. As a team, the series we won in Australia in 2018 was a very good series for our side and Virat was captain at the time. As a singles player, best memory as a batsman, his Test hundred in South Africa in 2013, the pitch was challenging and there was a lot of bounce,” he added.
Kohli sees milestones in 100th test
Virat Kohli is just 38 runs away from becoming the 6th Indian batsman to score 8000 runs in Test cricket. He also has the opportunity to complete 8000 runs as the fifth fastest in the country.
Kohli will join the likes of Sachin Tendulkar (15921), Rahul Dravid (13288), Sunil Gavaskar (10122), VVS Laxman (8781) and Virender Sehwag (8586) to surpass the 8000 run mark.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli needs 237 runs to surpass head coach Dravid on the list of most runs Indian batters have scored against Sri Lanka in home tests.
Kohli has an excellent record against Sri Lanka as he has scored 610 runs including 300 in just 3 home Tests. Kohli has scores of 0, 104 (Calcutta 2017), 213 (Nagpur 2017) and 243 and 50 (Delhi 2017) against the islanders.