On Friday, Virat Kohli rated his 149 at Edgbaston his second-best Test century, slotting it just below his hundred in Adelaide in 2014.
That was a gallant second-innings 141 in a losing cause, as India fell 48 runs short.
At least this time, he would have hoped, India would emerge victorious. It was not to be.
On Saturday morning, Kohli departed after having contributed 200 of the team’s 436 runs this Test match (including 22 extras); India sank to defeat again.
Monument to discipline
Kohli’s first hundred on English soil was a monument to discipline and a demonstration of his desire to work on every last flaw in his batting. He stood outside the crease to negate James Anderson’s swing, did not prod at anything outside the off-stump.
On the occasions that he did edge behind, he had not slashed hard but played with a soft bottom-hand, so the ball did not carry to the slip cordon. To put the knock into context, Kohli faced 225 balls. With the exception of Joe Root, no batsman from either side played more than a hundred in either innings.
“[It feels] just like any hundred I score,” he told BBC radio after the match on Saturday. “Back in the day I used to think about playing in different conditions, different countries, but when you become captain it’s about taking your team across the line.
“When the focus is on the larger picture, these things don’t matter — you are able to bat longer than you would’ve done otherwise and the ability you have inside just unleashes because you’re not focused on your personal milestones. So thinking of the team always helps and that’s why I was able to bat longer than I would’ve otherwise.”
Kohli has now scored a Test hundred in every country he’s played in, except Bangladesh where he has played only one Test. England was the last, troublesome frontier to be conquered and he did it the old-fashioned way, knuckling down for a hard day’s grind.
There was no white-ball-style lash through the covers, no raging whip over mid-wicket, no frills. It is not easy to get a batsman out when he can score without taking risks.
Kohli’s form will give India enormous confidence heading into the second Test at Lord’s, starting on Thursday. But it must also cause enormous concern that the match has exposed the same, old flaws in the rest of India’s batsmen. This is a long series, and it can be a painful one if they do not find a way to cope.
“It was quite a tough pitch to bat on,” R. Ashwin said, in their defence.
“I don’t think batsmen from both sides were able to make runs with lots of freedom barring the partnership between Root and Bairstow in the first innings and then Virat from our side. It has been quite a struggle that way so I think we need to give batsmen some space that way.”
India will be proud of the way it competed, but only one batsman seemed to be doing most of the competing.
The ability you have inside just unleashes because you’re not focused on your personal milestones
Kohli has now scored a Test hundred in every country he’s played, except Bangladesh where he has featured in only one Test
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