Virat Kohli, the Indian cricketer, has finally ended his three-year wait for a century by scoring an impressive 186 runs in India’s first innings in their fourth Test match against Australia. The hosts finished their first innings on 571, overtaking Australia’s 480 and gaining a first-innings lead of 91 at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday. Kohli was the last man out after he fell to Todd Murphy in the final session of play as India lost their ninth wicket, and Shreyas Iyer did not bat due to back pain. Australia reached three for no loss with Travis Head getting the runs while batting alongside nightwatchman Matthew Kuhnemann.
Kohli’s 28th Test ton was a moment of celebration for fans, who had been eagerly waiting for him to reach this milestone. He reached his century with a single off spinner Nathan Lyon in the second session, and fans went wild with celebration. Dubbed “King Kohli” by his fans, the player is one of cricket’s biggest names. He admitted last year to mental health struggles as his magic with the bat deserted him. He also lost the Indian captaincy, one of the most high-pressure jobs in world sport.
“A 600-kilo gorilla is off his back. He will grow a couple of inches taller by this evening,” shouted commentator and former India coach Ravi Shastri. Australia’s stand-in skipper Steve Smith applauded on the ground, and a placard in the crowd read “Here to see King Kohli ruling in his kingdom”, as children in India shirts bowed in respect.
Kohli had a tough 2021 and 2022, failing to reach three figures in over 1,000 days. He quit as Twenty20 skipper in late 2021 and in January 2022 was sacked from the one-day captaincy and gave up leading the Test side, too. But he hit his first ton after 1,020 days in the Asia Cup T20 tournament in September last year and has not looked back since. Kohli finished the T20 World Cup in Australia last year as the leading run scorer and then hit three ODI centuries including two – 113 and 166 not out – against Sri Lanka in January.
The New Delhi-born star is rated as one of the best batsmen of his generation in world cricket, with a Test average of over 48 in 108 matches since making his debut in 2011. Kohli now stands fourth in the all-time Test century makers for India behind Sachin Tendulkar (51), Rahul Dravid (36) and Sunil Gavaskar (34). Kohli had spoken about his mental health struggles during his dry phase, including how he had been “snappy” around his Bollywood actor wife Anushka Sharma, with whom he has a young daughter.
Pundits, among them former World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev, even suggested Kohli should be dropped during his lean phase last year. The former top-ranked batsman revealed during the 2022 Asia Cup that only Mahendra Singh Dhoni sent him messages of support during a tough phase of mental struggle after quitting the Test captaincy.
When the match resumes on the fifth day, India will need a win to clinch the series and be sure of a berth in the World Test Championship final in June. Kohli’s century has put India in a strong position to win the match and secure their place in the final.