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India in Australia: Down Under - The making of Virat Kohli, the modern legend

By : Shashikant Sharma | Updated on: 14 Nov 2018, 12:19:55 AM
India in Australia: Down Under - The making of Virat Kohli, the modern legend (PTI File Photo)

New Delhi:

Virat Kohli is one of the modern-day greats of cricket when it comes to the art of batting. His reputation was made and enhanced due to stellar performances in tough conditions in Australia during the 2011 and 2014 series.


Australia has been a kind nation when it comes to making Indian cricketers legends. Vijay Hazare became a certified genius not only because he became the first Indian to score a ton in both innings of a Test, but because he achieved it in Australia, in Sir Don Bradman’s backyard. Sunil Gavaskar struck five centuries Down Under in the 70s and 80s. Sachin Tendulkar was the designated gold standard because he provided so many memorable knocks against Australia. Be it the 114 on a fast and bouncy Perth wicket in 1992, 116 in Melbourne 1999 or a disciplined 241 in Sydney 2004, every knock of Tendulkar in Australia enhanced his greatness.

In addition to Gavaskar and Tendulkar, Australia has given birth to one more Indian legend. His steel was forged during the team’s dark times in 2011/12 when they were whitewashed 4-0. From the ashes of those humiliating losses, there arose a fiery individual that would ensure Indian cricket would not take a back step, verbally or in the field. Virat Kohli is a modern great of the game and it was in Australia where the legend was established.

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2011/12 – First glimpse of the legend

Before the Australia tour, Kohli had acquired a reputation as a batsman to watch out for in ODIs but his Test career had hardly taken off. After failures in Melbourne and Sydney, there were murmurs that maybe Kohi is not suited for Test cricket. However, like Tendulkar in 1992, Perth was the venue where Kohli showed he belonged in Tests.

On a difficult track, Kohli was the only one who showed application in weathering the Aussie bowlers who regularly touched 90 mph. His knock of 44 and 75 might not have been big scores, but it gave India a glimpse of a bright future. When all was lost in Adelaide, with India whitewashed, it was Kohli’s 116 and his aggression towards the Australians that gave India a moral victory.

His good form continued in the CB series and one particular knock, 133 off 86 balls against Sri Lanka in Hobart 2012 cemented his super stardom. His batting and his assault on Lasith Malinga, the best death overs bowler at that time, represented the moment when Kohli the youngster evolved into Kohli the megastar. The Delhi lad’s exploits on the 2011/12 tour gave Indian fans the hope that life ahead will be good once the likes of Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman quit.

2014/15 series – Legendary batting

Kohli arrived in 2014/15 Down Under with some fresh doubts. His technique was shredded in England by the likes of James Anderson and critics said that Kohli was a player who could not play against the seaming ball. 

This time, Kohli chose the moment to silence his detractors and blasted centuries in both innings of the Adelaide Test. His knocks of 115 and 141 was still not enough to give India victory in what was an emotionally-draining Test, played in the backdrop of Phillip Hughes tragic death. After a blip in Brisbane, Kohli showed his fondness for Australian conditions with knocks of 169 and 147 in the Melbourne and Sydney Tests. His 692 runs in the four Tests at an average of 86 was the best-ever tally by an Indian in Australia, more than Gavaskar or Tendulkar. Overseas yet again, Australia enhanced Kohli’s stature when it came to batting.

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2018/19 series – conquering the final frontier?

Heading into this series, Kohli has proven without a shadow of doubt that he is the best. He has ensured his detractors have no place to hide after he conquered his demons in England. He has shown his brilliance in South Africa. He did well in New Zealand and his record in Australia is simply outstanding. 

With Australia depleted and with Kohli in the form of his life, the chance is bright for India to register a first-ever Test series win. In the last two trips Down Under, Kohli the legendary batsman was created. A series win in Australia this time could herald the arrival of Kohli as a legendary captain.

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First Published : 13 Nov 2018, 02:34:30 PM