VISAKHAPATNAM: What do you do when an opponent batsman in rampaging form gives you a rare chance in the initial stages of his innings?
One thing is for sure. You don’t waste it. West Indies skipper Jason Holder did. Batting on 44, Virat Kohli was still looking to find his groove when he offered a skier to his counterpart. Debutant left-arm pacer Obed McCoy had bowled a perfect slower one. Kohli tried to slash over covers, but could not time it well. The ball shot straight into the sky. Holder, perched at mid-off, ran backwards and covered the length of the ground required to reach the ball, which was diving fast, but could not hold on to it.
That Holder miss in the 23rd over can also be looked upon as the metaphorical line that differentiates the good from the great. The latter — Kohli falls in the category, irrespective of this match’s result — don’t give opponents too many opportunities to put their foot on the door.
Seventy one balls later at the ACA-VDA Cricket Stadium, the first pangs of regret for that mistake stung Windies. No other chances were offered in that duration. A nurdle past mid-on later, history had been made. Kohli had Usain Bolt-ed his way past Sachin Tendulkar to the 10,000-run mark in the format, and not to mention breaking a Titanic-sized boat-load of records. Kohli’s masterclass on Wednesday — one that swelled to an unbeaten 157 by the time India ended their innings — lay in the way he built his innings. Discipline from Kemar Roach and Ashley Nurse resulted in Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma registering a rare failure up front. They’d departed before hitting the 50-run mark. Slow was the operating keyword in Visakhapatnam.
And, that’s exactly how Kohli began on this two-paced wicket. Barring a couple of boundaries in the first powerplay, Kohli kept doing what he does best: run his way to a big score. While India’s new No 4 Ambati Rayudu took on the role of aggressor, the skipper let his calves and hamstrings do more work than his blade. Gaps in the field were constantly peppered by Kohli. Rayudu picked out the boundary every and then. A 139-run stand for the third wicket had been forged. At the time the latter was done courtesy an ungainly slog off Ashley Nurse for 73, Kohli’s score stood at one run more. His legs had fetched him 46 off those. One of those could have been two — he’d grounded his bat before the crease — and Kohli’s anguish would’ve made one think that the 29-year-old had run his car over his pet dog by mistake. Rishabh Pant and MS Dhoni came and went, but Kohli bade his time. A 106-ball ton was constructed as he did. And then he flicked his switch on.
Kohli is now the 13th to reach five digits in ODIs. Barring MS Dhoni, the other 11 have hung up their boots, but for the skipper — an already-established great, so to speak — it’s the dawn of a new era. Now, only the Little Master remains in sight, 8,350 runs away.
India: Rohit c Hetmyer b Roach 4, Dhawan lbw Nurse 29, Kohli 157 n.o, Rayudu b Nurse 73, Dhoni b McCoy 20, Pant lbw Samuels 17, Jadeja c Kieran Powell b McCoy 13, Shami 0 n.o. Extras (lb3, w5) 8. Total (6 wkts, 50 ovs) 321.
FoW: 1-15, 2-40, 3-179, 4-222, 5-248, 6-307.
Bowling: Holder 6-0-50-0, Roach 10-0-67-1, Nurse 10-0-46-2, Bishoo 10-0-48-0, McCoy 9-0-71-2, Samuels 5-0-36-1.
West Indies: Kieran c Pant b Shami 18, Hemraj b Kuldeep 32, Hope 123 n.o, Samuels b Kuldeep 13, Hetmyer c Kohli b Chahal 94, Rovman c Rohit b Kuldeep 18, Holder (run out) 12, Roach n.o 0, Extras (1b, 4 lb, 1 w) 6. Total (7 wkts, 50 ovs) 321.
FoW: 1-36, 2-64, 3-78, 4-221, 5-253, 6-300, 7-315.
Bowling: Shami 10-0-59-1, Umesh 10-0-78-1, Kuldeep 10-0-67-3, Jadeja 10-0-49-0, Chahal 10-0-63-1.