Till Thursday, England was the only fortress Virat Kohli hadn’t conquered. His failure to do so on the previous tour in 2014 had been the dominant theme in the build-up to the Test series this time around. Then in only one knock, the Indian captain faced more balls and scored more runs than he had cumulatively in 10 innings on English soil four years ago. Sceptics might bring up the numerous play-and-misses and the two dropped catches by Dawid Malan. But which great batsman hasn’t played and missed or not been dropped at slip when the ball’s moving around in England?
Mike Atherton had spoken about how “Virat Kohli was four years wiser and James Anderson (his nemesis) four years older” as a prelude to their much-anticipated battle. In those four years, Kohli has reinvented his batting repeatedly to become the most complete batsman of his generation, a title validated by his knock at Edgbaston in testing conditions. Not only did he find ways, while in the middle, to thwart the Anderson challenge, he also unleashed the entire range of shots from the ever-burgeoning Kohli repertoire. There was the swat flick off Sam Curran, where he turns a basic shot into a devastating one. There was the usual fare of exquisite cover-drives and square-drives along with the soft-handed power-cut. He pulled them all off while constantly adjusting his technique and batting with the tail-end.
Kohli himself never likes to get drawn into comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar. But he’s making it very difficult for those tempted to draw those parallels, especially with the influence he seems to have on every match and every series whenever he walks out to bat. He’s rapidly accumulating the necessary numbers too — he’s already got 56 international tons — to hasten his progress towards the Tendulkar quotient of greatness.