Birthday special: Virat Kohli’s top 5 knocks in international cricket

Virat Kohli. This name is synonymous with class, consistency and charisma. Born on 5th November 1988, he has gone on to establish himself not just as one of India’s greatest, but the world’s greatest batsman. With 7765 runs in 96 Tests, 12169 runs in 254 ODIs and 3225 runs in 93 T20I games, all at an average of more than 50, Kohli is truly a modern legend. Having made his ODI debut in 2008 and Test debut in 2011, he has come a long way and is currently the Indian skipper across formats. In a glorious career spanning more than a decade, here are Kohli’s top 5 innings in international cricket.

5) 133*against Australia at Hobart in 2012

This was the innings that announced the arrival of a superstar and a master chaser. India were up against Sri Lanka in a do or die game in the CB series. Sri Lanka had piled up 320 and India needed to chase it down in less than 40 overs. It seemed an improbable task. But Virat Kohli had other plans.

The Sri Lankans didn’t realise how Kohli was milking them every over without taking too many risks. Kohli completed his ton in the 35th over in just 76 balls, with India requiring just 42 off 6 overs. Kohli then smashed one of the world’s best bowlers, Lasith Malinga all across the park for 24 runs. It was the first time Malinga had been annihilated in that way. India comfortably got to the target in the 37th over, and Kohli remained unbeaten. It was the first of many such successful chases he would go on to pull off.

4) 183 against Pakistan at Dhaka in 2012 (ODI)

Just 20 days after the Hobart masterclass, Kohli once again gave glimpses of the brilliance he possessed, against India’s arch-rivals, Pakistan. Their Asia Cup encounter in 2012 promised nothing less. Pakistan managed to put 330 on the board, and with the talent they had in the bowling department, India needed a miracle to pull off the mammoth chase.

Unfortunately for India, they lost Gautam Gambhir on the second ball of the innings. That is when Virat Kohli joined Sachin Tendulkar at the crease. Their partnership was poetry in motion. While Virat looked slightly tentative initially, he calmed down in the presence of the master. And once he settled, he became unstoppable. He was particularly good against the spinners, and his drives and flicks were a treat to watch. He didn’t stop after getting a ton in such a big game and showed stomach for a lot more and kept batting on. Unfortunately, he lost his wicket with just 12 runs to get. But it wasn’t before he had taken India to the doorsteps of a historic win.

3) 141 against Australia at Adelaide 2014 (Test)

The first Test of India’s tour to Australia was Kohli’s first as captain. It was the turning point in the fortunes of India’s Test team. After a disastrous preceding Test series in England, Kohli had a lot to prove. And so he did. He scored 115 in India’s first innings, and it was a fantastic knock. But it was his 141 in the second innings which is perhaps one of the greatest 100s by an Indian on an overseas tour.

India were chasing 364 in their second innings on the last day. Kohli stitched together a 185-run partnership with Murali Vijay. India at 242-2, it seemed they would be able to pull off their greatest Test win ever. However, Murali Vijay was dismissed on 99, and then the innings just fell apart from there. Kohli stood like a lone warrior. He had looked a class apart, playing balls to merit and attacking the poor balls. But with wickets falling like ninepins at the other end, Kohli tried to up the ante and lost his wicket with the score at 307. India ended up losing by 48 runs, but it is arguably the greatest Test innings by an Indian captain in Australia.

2) 82* against Australia at Mohali, 2016 (T20)

Virat Kohli was at his absolute best in the 2016 T20 World Cup. But this innings was something else. It was a do or die game for India and they needed to beat an emphatic opposition in Australia to proceed to the semis. India lost an early wicket in pursuit of the stiff target of 161. Once again, Kohli seemed to be batting on a different surface. He was timing the ball and finding gaps with ease. However, he kept running out of partners at the other end.

With 67 runs needed off the last six overs, it seemed the target had slipped out of India’s grasp. But Kohli and Dhoni put on a show. They ran quick singles and outrageously converted singles into doubles. With 39 required off the last 3, Kohli launched an absolute assault, hitting ridiculous boundaries and within 10 minutes, he had helped India get over the line, with as many as five balls to spare. It was mentally and physically draining for the chase master and by his own admission, at that time, was his best innings.

1) 149 against England at Edgbaston, 2018 (Tests)

After a disastrous 2014 tour of England, Kohli had a lot to prove in the 2018 tour. He was a much superior batsman in terms of technique and experience and he wanted the world to know that. India, like their previous outings in England, lost early wickets in a cluster. At 100-5, it seemed India were heading towards another collapse. But, one man stood up. Virat Kohli stood up. He curbed his natural game, left an immense number of balls outside the off-stump and showed more patience and restraint than he ever had in his career. After his century, he showed his counter-attacking skills as he took the team from 217-9 to 274 single-handedly. It was an innings that wasn’t his most fluent, but surely, the proof of how much Virat Kohli had evolved and developed as a cricketer.