Exactly a decade ago, the chubby boy from Delhi, and the former U-19 captain of India, Virat Kohli played one of the finest innings you will ever come across. The day marks the beginning of Virat turning into a brand for India and world cricket. With his aggression, he kept the Sri Lankan bowlers at bay and took the world by storm leaving them in his admiration. Since then, even till today, the best batter of the current generation, Virat has continued to rule the hearts of cricket fans across the globe.
He is popular not just amongst the fans, but also across cricketers across the globe. Everyone loves to have him in his side or wants to do best when they play against him. One can guess his popularity when someone in PSL said that everyone is praying for Virat's 71st century. Even though the 71st has taken a lot of time to come, the fact that he has 70 centuries in the early years is an extraordinary thing in itself. But the most amazing century coming from his bat came exactly a decade ago from now.
28 February 2012, the Hobart crowd witnessed something very special. Before this, Virat had a few centuries, and most of it had come while chasing, but this 133 off 86 balls was something very very special. In the tri-nation series between India, Srilanka and Australia, India was playing a do or die match. Srilanka had scored a mammoth total of 320 runs, and to have a chance to qualify for the finals, India needed to chase the mammoth total in 40 overs.
The task looked impossible. But not the case if you are Virat Kohli. As a player who loves to accept challenges, Virat accepted this one with both his hands. In the match, every Indian played beautifully. Sehwag, God of cricket Sachin and Gambhir played their part in the game. Then it was the turn of Virat to step in. And boy, he did that in some style.
He thrashed the Sri Lankan attack in every possible way. It looked like he came on the crease as a set batter, and looked in complete flow. He displayed his immensely elegant array of strokes. His wristy flicks, his cover drives, his lofted drives were a treat to watch. His confidence was seen, when one of the finest bowlers, Malinga was thrashed for 24 runs in one over by the young Kohli. In the same over, Virat's bottom handed flick hit for a six, without moving his feet is a shot people played on repetition on YouTube.
In the same over, he reached his century in 76 balls. The entire Hobart crowd applauded his effort. In the next 10 balls he played, he scores 33 runs more and led India to an unbelievable victory. India kept their hopes to the final alive, as they chased the total of 321 in 36.4 overs. The world was in the awe of the young gun. The headlines of the newspaper on the next day read "India doesn't fear any opposition, because it had a lethal weapon in the form of Virat Kohli".
From that day, Virat continued to up his game, eventually becoming a top-notch player. In the next 3 weeks to follow, he scored his career-best 183 not out in Asia cup against archrivals Pakistan. In the same match, the world witnessed centuries of two best batters, Sachin and Virat. In the further days to come, Virat ruled world cricket like a boss. On the same date, 28 February 2016, he played a beautiful inning of 49 runs against Pakistan in a low scoring encounter in the T20s.
Batters like Babar, Williamson, Root, Smith are great. But for the longest period, Virat has dominated this generation. And Virat's era truly started with this magnificent inning. The Chubby guy from Delhi went on to create and break records. The U-19 captain of the 2008 Indian team, led senior Men in Blue to a dominating position. Even when he is not the captain, hoarding in important ICC events depict him as the captain. Because, even though he is not captain, his era has not ended. His era will continue, sooner or later he will score his 71st century and will follow it with many more. But this special inning happening a decade ago will always be a special one for fans, and the man himself.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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