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When Virat Kohli’s 141 wasn’t enough for India in Adelaide

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Last updated on 13 Dec 2023 | 05:17 AM
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When Virat Kohli’s 141 wasn’t enough for India in Adelaide

Despite scoring twin centuries - 115 and 141 - Virat Kohli and his men emerged on the losing side in a pulsating fixture

The 2014-15 Border Gavaskar Trophy was a momentous occasion in the Indian cricket team’s Test history, although few saw it coming. MS Dhoni had relinquished his Test captaincy after losing three consecutive Test series against South Africa, New Zealand and England, and the management had decided to hand over the reins to a 26-year-old Virat Kohli.

Making his Test debut only over three years ago, a young and seemingly immature Virat Kohli wasn’t a definite choice for the side that had the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane and more. But, as the series started, it was evident that a very different Indian team had touched down in Australia.

The previous on-field controversies between India and Australia had the former side mostly reacting to provocations, something which wasn’t the case this time. As the first Test started in Adelaide, Kohli’s on-your-face celebrations and openly confronting Australian players in their backyard started becoming more noticeable.

Kohli would clash with David Warner and Steve Smith and later be fined 30% of their match fees, and while the tussle looked unnecessary to many, Kohli was working his magic.

India was far from a top Test team in 2014, with all expecting Australia to dominate the visitors left, right and centre, barring one man - Virat Kohli. Kohli's captaincy debut came at a tough time, when his own game was under the scanner, having tallied only 150 runs across the five Tests in England. 

But Kohli picked up from the 116 that he had scored in Adelaide back in 2012. After Australia tallied a mammoth 517 in the first innings, Indian batsmen had started strongly. However, while all of them pitched in with significant contributions, Kohli anchored the team with a brilliant 115 runs.

India trailed by just 73 runs after their first innings and while Kohli desperately wanted experience in his bowling department, the likes of Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron and Ishant Sharma weren’t the answer to his prayers. 

Australia started their second innings post-lunch on Day 4, and Warner’s lightning-quick 102 put India on the backfoot again. Smith (52) and Mitchell Marsh (40) further helped Australia to a tally of 290 and declared, leaving India a target of 363 runs on the final day. 

Though a draw was on the cards, Adelaide’s turf had become a rank turner, with Nathan Lyon spitting fire with every delivery. Before India realized, they were 57/2 with Murali Vijay and Kohli batting at the crease and thus began a fight that shook the Australians’ belief. 

While Vijay made a valiant contribution of 99, it was India’s new Test captain who stood against all odds. When others couldn’t touch Lyon’s ball, Kohli fetched 20 runs off 10 balls with just the sweep shot. He had embodied perfection that afternoon, and while all his compatriots crumbled around him, he kept going to tally 141 runs in the second innings.

Though India fell 48 runs short in the end, this match was a hint of things to come in Indian Test cricket. By scoring twin centuries in an innings, Kohli became only the second man after Greg Chappell to achieve that feat on his captaincy debut. He was also the first visiting batsman in 53 years to score two centuries in one Test in Australia,     

In 68 Tests that Kohli captained India, the side went on to win and won 40 of them, thus making him the best ever Test captain India ever had. Averaging a brilliant 55.36 as India’s captain, Kohli scored 20 Test centuries and seven double centuries.

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