New Delhi :
Virat Kohli has had several memorable moments in Australia but his feats at the Adelaide Oval, where he has hit centuries in Tests and ODIs, has established a strong love affair with the venue.
During the Twenty20 International match between Australia and India in Adelaide 2016, Virat Kohli had blasted a magnificent 90 off 55 balls. It included nine fours and two sixes and the innings was an art in batting without mindless slogging. India won the match by 37 runs and they would become the first team to whitewash Australia in their home den with a 3-0 sweep of the Twenty20 Internationals.
Kohli’s knock helped India overcome the sadness of the 1-4 ODI series loss. After winning the Man of the Match, Kohli said, “I could take this stadium with me wherever I bat.” These 10 words spoken by India’s dashing right-hander highlighted a legendary tale of love. A love affair much before the arrival of Anushka Sharma. It is Kohli’s love for the Adelaide Oval.
Kohli’s affection for the Adelaide Oval is not new among Indians. It was at this venue in 2003 that Rahul Dravid’s epic 233 and 72* helped India beat Australia for the first time Down Under in 22 years. It is in Adelaide where the best of Kohli has been showcased.
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2012 – Adelaide provides cheer amidst the glum
The 2011/12 series was a disaster for India. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman had failed to galvanise India and they were on the cusp of a 4-0 whitewash. Amidst the gloom, there was a knock in Adelaide which gave India a huge moral victory and a positive outlook for the future.
Kohli, who had provided glimpses of his best with 44 and 75 in the Perth Test, stepped up to the plate and entered the elite club when he stroked his first Test century. His aggressive and confrontational approach against a team known to be master sledgers signalled a new era in Indian cricket, an era of aggression. India might have lost the series 4-0, but it gave the world a new star in Kohli and his116 was the beginning of something special.
2014 – Heartbreak after an epic
In the 2014 Test, the mood heading into the match was sombre due to the tragic death of Phillip Hughes. Australia rode on centuries from David Warner (145), Michael Clarke (128) and Steve Smith (162) to reach 517/7 declared. Kohli responded with a magnificent 115 but India conceded a 73-run lead. Warner again scored a century in the second innings as Australia set India 364 on the final day to win.
On a wearing pitch and with Nathan Lyon weaving his magic, Kohli took the attack to the opposition. He weathered everything that was thrown at him and steadily got India closer to the target. After scoring a century in the second innings, the stage was set for an epic showdown. He was well supported by Murali Vijay but his dismissal on 99 triggered a collapse. India crossed 300 and with India needing 60 and Kohli on 141, Australia were under immense pressure.
However, in the process of breaking the pressure, Kohli pulled Lyon straight to Mitchell Marsh at deep midwicket. He looked up to the sky distraught, stared down the pitch for a while and slowly trudged off. Kohli knew his wicket would be the end and Australia wrapped up the match by 48 runs. The hosts were deserved victors but Kohli had owned Adelaide with a remarkable exhibition of batting.
World Cup glory against Pakistan
The 2015 World Cup encounter against Pakistan in Adelaide showed Kohli as the ultimate big-match player. In a pressure situation in front of a packed stadium, Kohli displayed nerves of steel and calmly negotiated the Pakistan bowlers. After being dropped by Yasir Shah off Shahid Afridi on 11, Kohli piled on the runs with ruthless efficiency. He was well supported by Shikhar Dhawan (73) and Suresh Raina (74) as India reached 300.
Kohli’s ability to not come under pressure rubbed off on the whole team and India secured their sixth straight win in World Cups against Pakistan. Once again, Adelaide had given Kohli a memorable moment.
With the current Australian side depleted, Kohli will be eager to repeat his performances of 2012 and 2014/15 and give India their first win in Australia. India will open their Test campaign in Adelaide and this gives Kohli another chance to add some more chapters in this saga of love.