Partab Ramchand

By: Partab Ramchand


Sept 9, 2022: It was a match of no consequence, the opponents, Afghanistan were not very strong, the conditions were perfect for batting. All this does not matter. Virat Kohli roared back to form and that was enough for his fans to celebrate and silence his critics. If it was a pressure free match there was still enough pressure on him for it was a very long time in coming, that hundred on Thursday. For a player who used to notch hundreds with almost ridiculous ease, a gap of 1020 days since his last international century was hard to take. There he was batting commandingly with 70 hundreds against his name and in hot pursuit of Sachin Tendulkar’s record tally of 100 hundreds. There he was performing with a consistency that made him the only batsman to average 50 plus in all three formats.

And then suddenly there was a barren run, the kind that occurs to even the careers of the greatest of batsmen. Only in Kohli’s case the run continued for an inordinate long time, enough to cause concern among the Indian cricketing fraternity. In Tests, ODIs and T-20s he was repeatedly out for low scores and there were quite a few ducks too. There were never any doubts about age catching up with him for Kohli, who turns 34 in a couple of months’ time, was not rusty. It was not that his reflexes had become slow or that he had lost his hunger for runs after 14 years of non-stop international cricket. But try as he might the big scores eluded him until that glorious hundred against Afghanistan at the Asia Cup which took his tally finally to 71 placing him alongside Ricky Ponting. It surely is only a matter of time before he goes past the Aussie great and then he will have a clear sight of Tendulkar’s record. That may still be beyond him for while he is almost certain to get past the great man’s tally of 49 ODI hundreds – Kohli has 43 – it will be impossible even for someone like Kohli to get near Tendulkar’s 51 Test hundreds as right now the figure against his name is 27. But even if he finishes second to Tendulkar in the overall tally – which he will – it will be a big feather in Kohli’s cap.

Incidentally this was Kohli’s first T-20 international hundred and to add to his considerable list of records his 122 is the highest score by an Indian in T-20 internationals surpassing Rohit Sharma’s 118 scored against Sri Lanka in 2017. Most importantly, having got the monkey off his back, there is every reason to believe that Kohli will put the extended barren run behind him and now surge on to notch one big score after another. As we all know Kohli is mentally very strong and once he sets certain goals, he sees to it that he reaches there sooner or later. It has taken him some time to shrug off the series of low scores and one is somehow confident that we will now see King Kohli back at his glorious best. And there could not be a happier augury with the T-20 World Cup round the corner!

(Partab Ramchand is a veteran sports journalist, the views expressed here are personal.)

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