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Virat Kohli’s three away Test tons are testament to his growth as a batsman

Virat Kohli has scored three Test tons in his last three away tours for India © Getty Images
Virat Kohli has scored three Test tons in his last three away tours for India © Getty Images

Virat Kohli has now scored an international ton in every country he has played in, plus three Test hundreds on his last three overseas tours. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about Kohli’s growth as a batsman.

Virat Kohli has been India’s best batsman across formats in the aftermath of the ICC World Cup 2011. Even as the Indian team witnessed a transition, with the baton passing to the younger lot, Kohli held firm and weathered through a tough time for his side. Throughout, he looked assured and confident — working on his shortcomings along the way to become India’s biggest hope in the batting. His recent ton in New Zealand is further proof of the figure he has become for the Indian team.

India have been beaten in their last four Test series away from home. Kohli has been a part of the last three tours, but has grown during each campaign. On the tour to Australia in 2011-12, he started off a little slow, but as the tour progressed, he was India’s best batsman. An assured half-century at Perth was followed by a maiden Test ton at Adelaide in the fourth match of the series. By then, India had lost the series, but Kohli had a lot to prove. What was impressive then was that he batted through despite wickets falling at the other end.

Back then, India still had its old guard in Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. Kohli was the youngest in the lot and yet turned out the clear winner. He stood rock solid, battled with the Australian bowlers and resisted them. There were words exchanged, but he did manage to keep his composure while facing testing deliveries. The signs were good, but one knew that there were a few wrinkles that needed an iron.

Fast forward to December 2013. By then, Kohli was an established Test batsman with a good run at home in the format.  Tendulkar’s retirement thrust him into the No 4 spot as he seemed to be the best candidate. In his maiden outing at that spot, he didn’t disappoint and duly hit a ton against the likes of South Africa‘s Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander at Johannesburg. What’s more is that he went onto get a ninety in the second essay. Brett Schultz, the former South African fast bowler told CricketCountry after Kohli’s ton in the first innings, “The wicket looked quick and bouncy. He was able to leave balls on length and hit the bad balls for boundaries — which means his feet where not stuck in the crease due to the bounce.”

But, a more telling comment from Schultz was, “Playing well at the Wanderers means he can play well on most wickets in South Africa and Australia.”

With that experience, Kohli did come into New Zealand with confidence. There was always going to be that pressure of performing. He does have Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajikya Rahane, men who have shaped up very well in Test cricket. But, that No 4 spot seems something great, historically at least. Kohli has to maintain that level of consistency and be the fulcrum of the batting. And, he did respond with a good innings on the final day.

India were all but out of the game, but still needed to ensure a draw. Kohli made a statement along the way and took India to safety. His ton is perhaps the only saving grace for India on the last two days of the tour.

Thus, Kohli has registered a Test ton in each of his last three overseas tours. What is interesting is that they have come in contrasting situations. The one at Adelaide was when the team was losing and there was no one but him. At Johannesburg, it was about setting the tone for the series. And, finally he was made to save a game for India. All through, his temperament has been tested and India would be happy that he has come through with flying colours.

Century in each country he has played

The other interesting fact is that Kohli now has an international ton in each country he has played. Irrespective of the conditions, he has this insatiable hunger. In One-Day Internationals (ODIs), he is already one of the best in the world and is gradually getting there in Tests. Here is a look at his international tons’ count:

Country

M*

100s

India

70

10

Bangladesh

9

4

Australia

14

2

New Zealand

7

2

Sri Lanka

24

2

England

11

1

South Africa

15

1

West Indies

14

1

Zimbabwe

11

1

*includes Tests, ODIs and T20 Internationals.

At the age of 25, Kohli has truly asserted himself as a giant. With each passing year, he gets better and better. That is the hallmark of a champion player!

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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