India tour of England, 2014: One of the rising young stars of the Indian team, Virat Kohli, scored all of 134 runs in 5 tests (10 innings). Highest score was 39. I.e. He scored 95 runs in 9 innings, an average of 10.55!
Since then, he became the Captain of the Indian Cricket Team (across all formats), and achieved the following:
- 1st Cricketer to average 50+ across all 3 formats (Tests, ODIs, T20s)
- Added to his runs and centuries in West Indies, South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka Etc.
- Captained India to Champion’s Trophy Finals and also to Test and ODI No:1 positions
- The 1st Player to be ranked No:1 (simultaneously) in both Tests and ODIs
- Amazing conversion rate of 55% (Converting 50s to 100s)
- 6 Double Centuries
But through all this, there was an “Elephant in the room”. His Test record in England in 2014. He had conquered the conditions and opposition in South Africa (2 centuries), Australia (5 centuries), West Indies (1 century), Sri Lanka (2 centuries), New Zealand (1 century), and of course, in India (10 centuries).
With Kohli’s style of play (Loves the Cover Drive), the swinging ball is the major challenge. English conditions are prime for Swing bowling. And as luck would have it, England boasts two All-time Greats of Swing bowling (James Anderson and Stuart Broad). Anderson had started the mind-games well before the hugely hyped India Tour of England in 2018.
Would Kohli have “improved” in English conditions?
Would English bowlers again harass Kohli outside Off?
Would he be able to conquer the conditions in England, just as he has done everywhere else?
As of 09/04/2018 (Tue), after the 4th Test of the 5-Match Series, his record stands at:
(Even if he scores 0 and 0 at The Oval, he will come out with an Average of 54.40)
Amazingly, he had not played County Cricket (as was his publicized original plan) and practiced in English conditions. Then how did he do it? Obviously, his hard work in the Gym (E.g. Stamina to convert 0s to 1s and 1s to 2s Etc.) and the Mental preparations (E.g. Discipline outside Off) have paid rich dividends.
Already, he has scored the most runs by an Indian Captain in an away series …
Not just that, even though India lost the Series 3-1, it was no cakewalk for England by any means. A bit more fight by the Indian Batsmen (especially the Openers and Lower-Middle Order), more practice in English conditions with the Duke ball before the Series, and better luck with Injuries (Bumrah, Bhuvi), the story could well have been different. As Kohli himself says, Indian players need to learn how to “cross the finish line”.
(As always, I wish Kohli tones down his aggression and wild celebrations a bit 🙂