Virat Kohli signals team win over personal accolades

Virat Kohli, with 50th international century in sight, had something else on his mind against Sri Lanka: How many overs to go before declaration?

Written by Sriram Veera | Mumbai | Updated: November 22, 2017 8:37 am
Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli in the team bus Coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli arrive in Nagpur for the second Test against Sri Lanka beginning on Friday. (Source: PTI)

When Virat Kohli was on 86, he signalled to Ravi Shastri in the dressing room. It was the drinks break in the second session on the final day, and India were 321/7 after 85 overs, almost 200 ahead of Sri Lanka. A declaration was on Kohli’s mind then.

The head coach signalled back at Kohli. From the visuals it seemed he suggested 20 runs more, and Kohli wanted someone to be sent with the message. Shastri turned to his left, and sent a substitute fielder. The Indian Express learns that this was the message: Four overs and 20 runs. Bat on.

Kohli executed the plan to perfection, reaching his hundred in the fourth over, and India added 31 runs in the process. The episode also showed to his team that the captain was willing to let go of personal landmarks and try to do what was best for the team. That he was not going to fall for the hype over the number of international tons and the chase to catch up with Sachin Tendulkar.

Post the message, this is how the action played out in the middle.

Kohli didn’t get strike in the over after resumption as Bhuvneshwar Kumar couldn’t connect with his slogs, and got out off the fourth ball. And Shami retained strike with an edged single off the last delivery.

Kohli eventually got strike on the fourth ball of Suranga Lakmal’s over, and smashed it for a six over extra cover. A couple off the next delivery, and a single off the last ball had Kohli on 95 – two overs after Shastri’s message. And India had moved on to 333.

Kohli got two balls to face in the next over, took two singles, and watched Shami carve and pull two fours. Kohli on 97 and India at 344.

At the end of the over, Kohli signalled again to Shastri who signals one more over — after all just three overs had been done, and one remained, according to the plan agreed upon at drinks.

A single off the first ball took Kohli off strike till the fourth which he walloped over long-off to bring up his hundred, and he declared the innings. India set a 231-run target and Sri Lanka stumbled and collapsed but just about hung on with three wickets intact when bad light ended the Test.

In the four overs after drinks, Kohli got his hundred, and India added 31 runs. India had 30 minutes before tea to bowl at Sri Lanka, and in that time, keeping in mind how the light has faded around 4.15 pm on the other days, they would have thought they could squeeze in 30 overs. As it turned out, they got in 26.3 overs and Sri Lanka lost 7 wickets.

Later, there would be some amateurish hand-wringing in some quarters over whether India could have declared earlier, and given themselves more overs. Hindsight is always 20/20 vision, and it could also be argued that those extra runs put the game out of Sri Lanka’s reach which brought in a survival mentality, giving India the cushion to attack. Sri Lanka were forced into a defensive approach which ended up backfiring on them. At some point on the final day, Sri Lanka held the upper hand, and India were groping with the possibility of defeat, but Kohli’s defiant approach dramatically turned around the day.

For all the latest Sports News, download Indian Express App

  1. Robin Sen Gupta
    Nov 22, 2017 at 11:00 am
    A timely declaration. An exciting finish.
    1. Anand Prabhu
      Nov 22, 2017 at 8:42 am
      What a load of rubbish! If Kohli wanted to declare when he was on 86, he should have done so. Why does he need approval of Cliche Plastry for that? This is cricket, not football. The captain runs the game, not the coach.
      1. Bora Sonim
        Nov 22, 2017 at 8:58 am
        I am sure you neither played ANY sport at top level, nor hold a significant position in your job ( if you have one) where you would have to lead a team. Let me explain you how it works for folks like us who actually lead men, this is free, hopefully one day you get to a position where you can use my advice. Leading men doesn't mean that one get to take decisions on their own, it is a matter of involving right people before making the call. He was not looking for coach approval, but reaching out to him for his suggestion and he decided to take it at that time. You are not in a position to comment on decisions taken by Kohli, who is one of the most successful sportsmen over the World, while you are nobody. He is who he is, for a reason.
      Live Cricket Scores & Results