SOUTH AFRICA TOUR OF INDIA, 2019
Kohli registered his highest Test score and remained unbeaten on 254. © AFP
Another home Test match, another double century from an Indian batsman and South Africa buried under a mountain of runs after being run ragged for a good portion of two days. This has been the theme of the Test series so far. On Friday (October 11), against a listless South Africa attack, Virat Kohli became the first Indian batsman to register seven Test match double hundreds. By the time India declared – after the 225-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja (91) ended – Kohli had passed 7000 Test runs and sat on his highest Test match score – 254*.
India’s day got even better in the final hour of the day as Umesh Yadav, re-instated into the line-up, knocked over Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar off successive overs. Markram was beaten by a pacy inswinger and caught in front of the stumps while Elgar played on to a delivery he decided rather belatedly to shoulder arms to. Mohammed Shami then struck with his first delivery to have Temba Bavuma caught behind. The visitors ended the day at 36/3, needing another 366 runs to avoid the follow-on.
There was an eerie sense of inevitability to Kohli’s 26th Test century from the moment he walked out to bat in the second session on Day 1, even though he’d gone 10 innings since his last Test hundred, at Perth. His only moment of concern came in the morning today, against the second new ball which was only 5.1 overs old at the start of the day’s play. Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander got the ball to talk, inducing as many as three outside edges of Kohli’s blade, but the ball fell well short of the cordon. This was down to both Philander’s pace – in the mid 120 kph – and Kohli’s abstinence from pushing at deliveries, opting instead to use a soft bottom hand.
India got only 41 runs in the first hour but once Kohli escaped that period of play unscathed, runs began flowing at a rapid pace. Anrich Nortje bowled short and wide and then overcompensated with full deliveries that the Indian captain drove to the fence. At the other end, Rahane grew significantly more decisive with his footwork against Keshav Maharaj and completed his fifty off 141 balls. The century of the partnership was achieved before Kohli moved into the 90s. There was a brief blip in the scoring as the Indian captain took 23 balls to traverse through the 90s before unfurling a pristine straight drive off Philander to get to his hundred.
Kohli took rapid strides in the second session despite Rahane falling for 59 to Keshav Maharaj for the left-arm spinner’s 100th wicket. That proved to be the highlight of Maharaj’s session – and even the series – with luck deserting him soon after. With the Pune surface progressively offering slow turn, he managed to induce three false shots in quick succession from Kohli, each of which flew past an outstretched Faf du Plessis at first slip. The second of those fours took Kohli to 150, a mere 68 balls after he had got to 100.
By then, South Africa had begun to unravel rather dramatically. Quinton de Kock and Rabada got into an argument and had to be separated by their captain. This happened after de Kock had turned his back to an unnecessary throw from Rabada on his bowling followthrough, thereby allowing India to sneak an extra run. Jadeja, who himself copped an official warning for running in the danger area, had a slow start at No.6, going 44 balls without a boundary before hitting two off Maharaj in a row.
All hell broke loose when Kohli resumed play in the final session. He completed his double hundred while Jadeja helped in the addition of 100 runs from just 11.2 overs after the Tea interval. Kohli was caught on 208 by du Plessis but Senuran Muthusamy had overstepped – his fifth no-ball of the innings – to hand the Indian captain a reprieve. While Kohli used that to march past his previous highest score – 243 vs Sri Lanka in Delhi – Jadeja proceeded towards a second Test ton of his own. That wasn’t to be as Jadeja fell nine short of the landmark. But by then India had passed 600 runs.
Brief scores: India 601/5 decl. (Virat Kohli 254*, Mayank Agarwal 108; Kagiso Rabada 3-93) lead South Africa 36/3 (Umesh Yadav 2-16) by 565 runs.