“I am awaiting authorization from bcci to compete in the 4th test against Australia! Fingers crossed I’m having a crack at the swing swing 4 prank! LOL. Maybe Chris Gayle’s sense of humor was too hot for the Indian locker room.
It was the third Test in Perth on the 2011-12 Australia tour, and India had just surrendered within three days. The visitors lost 3-0 in the series to Australia in preparation for a clean sweep. The epitaph of a once formidable line-up consisting of VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag was already being written. None except Tendulkar averaging 25 in this series.
Gayle’s punch on Twitter seemed to bring out the point.
Was it too late for the old guard? Was a reshuffle necessary, especially after a 4-0 shutout in England earlier this season? The fourth Test in Adelaide was the last chance for the legends to respond.
Australia struck first, declaring at 604/7 on Day 2 with Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke scoring a double century each. India on the 13th of Day 3 stuttered 87/4 in response – Gambhir, Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, all back in the pavilion.
Enter Virat Kohli at # 6. Peter Siddle’s first bullet, a quick and short-lived delivery, has whistled. Throughout the series he looked good, especially in Perth, but no altering matchstop had come from his bat. And the signs were worrying in Adelaide.
The combative Australian players had taken a particular liking to the 24-year-old, who was not afraid to make him unlike his Indian teammates.
Two tests earlier, in Sydney, Kohli’s face had made headlines in Australia. “Fingergate” tagged The Melbourne Age, after Kohli flipped a middle finger on the rowdy SCG crowd.
“I agree that cricketers don’t have to fight back. and when the crowd says the worst things about your mother and sister. the worst I’ve heard (sic), ”Kohli tweeted. He escaped with a heavy fine, but the Australians had taken note of the young Indian pistol.
In Adelaide, Kohli needed to keep his aggression under control. He did. Before turning 15, Laxman also fell. It was now up to Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha – he was only playing his second Test and after a two-year gap – with only the tail coming. The fight has started.
His limited abilities were known, but Kohli, Test’s dominant drummer who controls the game and delivers most of the time, was still in the making. A moderate test start in the West Indies shortly after winning the 2011 World Cup means he was not picked for the next England tour. Australia was a tall order and he had shaken the hostile crowd.
The battle was intense. Nothing fancy, Kohli used solid defense to keep the Australians at bay. Nathan Lyon, Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris and Clarke kept coming, but Kohli was persistent. The battle of attrition was interspersed with halfway smooth shots or draws. The 50 was hit in 100 bullets. No Indian centurion in the series and Kohli had raised hopes and prospects of saving India from the sequel.
Saha was the perfect ally, but just when it looked like India would play a session without losing a wicket, Saha was out for Harris over tea. In the third after the break, two more wickets fell. India on 230/8 and Kohli 91 *, it quickly lacked partners. Delhi teammate Ishant Sharma dug. His first Test 100 made 199 balls, 13 innings and seven months after his debut
Kohli fell on 116 and India was 272 all. But he had left Aussie bowlers tired and the rest was not done. The visitors lost, to concede the series 4-0, although Kohli helped reinforce the resolve to support the youngsters.
From abuse at the SCG to a standing ovation at the Adelaide Oval, his very young Test career had come full circle in Australia. A love affair with Adelaide was born.
When Kohli next arrived in Australia at the end of 2014, he had grown in stature. The big hitters had retired and he was anointed assistant to skipper MS Dhoni. But he had just suffered a batting nightmare in England, against swing and tailoring. His tally was 134 points in five matches, averaging 13.40.
Adelaide once again offered Kohli the chance to get up, during the first test. Leading the team as Dhoni served a suspension, he entered the game with breathtaking centuries in both sets. The cricket world and Australian fans admired the way he tackled aggression with aggression in a fourth innings race that would have been achieved without a lack of support at the other end.
By the end of the series, he had scored two more centuries and had taken over as test captain after Dhoni’s dramatic outing in Melbourne.
The circle reached its peak in 2018-2019. This time, Kohli led India to a series opener victory in Adelaide. He did not mark a century but superbly assembled his troops. India would go on to win the series 2-1, a historic first for India in Australia.
India begin another round of testing in Adelaide, with a day-to-night match starting on December 17. The pink kookaburra balloon and the transition phase between daylight and spotlight are seen as an added challenge against rivals thirsty for revenge on the reverse two years ago.
As someone who likes to set the agenda, Kohli’s halo can glow in the twilight zone.