Bengaluru, August 12: Virat Kohli does not imprison his emotions within the walls of his mind. So, it was not surprising to see him celebrating his 42nd ODI hundred, scored in the second ODI against the West Indies in Trinidad on Sunday (August 12), with gusto. A lion leap. A vigorous pointing to the name imprinted on the back of his jersery.
But it carried a contextual significance. The gesture was a loud statement -- I am back. Before the Port of Spain knock, 11 innings have passed since Kohli made a hundred and in that period he went past 50 five times without touching the three-figure mark. Rohit Sharma made record-breaking five hundreds in the ICC World Cup 2019. And Kohli also had to battle the news about the rift with his deputy in ODI format post the semifinal exit from the World Cup.
Kohli did not have any reservations in admitting Rohit's ascendancy to the best contemporary ODI batsman spot. But like any ambitious professional, Kohli too would have wanted his place back. The Indian skipper grabbed the first available opportunity to take that route.
He scored a 125-ball 120 with 14 fours and a six to lead India to a win that gave them 1-0 lead over the Windies. By no means, it will be counted among his finest ODI innings. As mentioned earlier, 11 innings without a hundred might not be a massive void in the case of many other batsmen but Kohli is not just another batsman.
Kohli and conversion
He has converted 50s into hundreds with better efficiency than any other batsman in ODI history. He has made hundreds in every 5.45 innings, at this stage way ahead of Sachin Tendulkar's hundred in every 9.22 innings. Nobody in ODI history has frequented to century more than Kohli.
So in Kohli's world, 11 innings without a hundred might look like a big barren run. The edifices he built with the bat have been towering.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar summed it up well. "You could see that he badly wanted to score a hundred not because he was out form but because he was getting out in the 70's and 80's and he's always known for scoring big runs," Bhuvneshwar said at the post match conference.
In Trinidad, Kohli looked unperturbed, focused on the task at hand after India lost Shikhar Dhawan early. Kohli was in the middle in the first over itself.
An uncluttered mind is the birthplace of Kohli's genius. As a batsman, his mind is not governed by the cumbersome thoughts like form, history, pitch, ground, weather and opposition. Kohli tackles each of them on its merit whenever he encounters them.
The Trinidad innings was a case in point. Rohit was not exactly in his elements and Kohli assumed the charge immediately upon his arrival at the crease. He started with two signature shots off Kemar Roach -- a cover drive and that bottom-handed whip to mid-wicket for boundaries. In negating their most experienced bowler, Kohli sent a message to Windies about his intentions.
Kohli did not let go the early momentum even when India lost Rohit and Rishabh Pant in quick succession. In the company of Shreyas Iyer, Kohli first ensured that India would not lose another wicket, accumulating 33 runs between overs 15 and 24. But once settled, he changed the gears.
Kohli unfurled his vast selection of shots. Jason Holder was smashed for a six over his head, Carlos Brathwaite was nudged skillfully to third man, Roston Chase was met with a lovely on-drive, Oshane Thomas was flicked masterly to fine leg. It might not have been the best Kohli innings but it certainly was a complete Kohli innings.
It has a smattering of everything. Presence of mind. Situational awareness, Hunger for big runs. The ability to combine well with his partner. And stunning range of shots. Oh this too! This was the 33rd time a Kohli hundred led India to win in ODIs.
It wasn't just another outing for Kohli but he made it look like just another outing.