Its November 5th and its happy birthday to the living legend and current Indian captain Virat Kohli. Surely numerous Kohli fans accross the globe will remember this day. What a great player taking all 3 formats together !! Averaging 54 in tests, 60 in ODIs and 50 in T20Is with 21000 runs across 3 formats and 69 100s . Having just completed 7000 runs in tests, he is without doubt a gigantic player accross formats and awaiting his 1st T20I hundred. His batting with his gorgeous strokeplay is a delight for the purists .A strict vegetarian, his fitness levels is being replicated accross Indian cricket. He is 31 and so is well poised to shatter more records. Today I have gone into flashback mode of my favourite Virat Kohli masterclass as under:
Kohli 169 at MCG v Australia 2014 and his memorable duel with Mitchel Johnson
The 2014-15 Australia v India series was remembered for Kohli’s duels with fiery Mitchel Johnson. Both interestingly happen to be born in the same zodiac sign sharing their birthdays within the same week (Johnson date of birth Nov 2nd). Johnson has caused enough terror amongst the world with his lightning pace and bounce ,decimating England and South Africa just the previous season and ending few tests careers. Hence he was expected to be a thorn in India’s side in the 2014 series. However luckily for India Virat Kohli was in the form of his life after a poor England series 4 months earlier. He had scored 2 brilliant twin 100s at Adelaide in a losing cause but nearly took India home on a wearing pitch. Johnson however had the better of him at Brisbane, dismissing him cheaply in 2nd innings and won the 2nd test for Australia . Thus both came face to face at MCG with honours even.
Australia batted first and scored 530 with Smith hitting a mammoth 192. The pitch was very good one for batting .However when Kohli stepped out India were 107/2 and still long way off from the follow on target of 331. Kohli looked all grace and perfectly balance in his footwork as he cover drove Harris gorgeously for his first boundary. Another off drive followed off Johnson who pitched up again and was beautifully straight driven .The 3rd wicket went down at 147 and then started Kohli’s memorable partnership with Ajinkha Rahane who also looked in great touch straightaway. A brilliant pull shot off Hazlewood and Kohli looked unstoppable .He soon reached 50 with a steered 4 off Johnson. While Kohli reached 80 ,Johnson was back for another spell and things started happening.
Kohli backed too far after playing one shot and Johnson hurled a rocket throw towards the stumps which hit Kohli as he stretched for the crease. Johnson apologised immediately but this infuriated Kohli and led to a fiery exchange of words between the two as both were known to lose temper quickly. Another 4 through the offside had both going at each other again. Then Mitch bowled a beautiful leg cutter which Kohli batting on 88, edged to slip but Watson dropped a sitter by his standards and the chance had gone for Australia. Not one to back out, Johnson bounced Kohli but was unlucky again as the miscued pull fell just short of a diving Haddin.Soon Kohli reached his 100 off Lyon as Rahane too was batting beautifully. Johnson came back for another spell and started to bounce Kohli who was equal to the task giving a fine exhibition of wristy pull shots despatching Johnson thrice to midwicket fence. The large number of Indian crowds at MCG was enjoying every moment of the duel. Here was a top fast bowler , only a season ago decimated a strong England batting lineup ,is now being counter attacked by a brilliant batsman who has just started to take his first steps to be considered an all time great. After reaching 150 Kohli stepped out and hit Johnson over midoff followed by few more exchanges of words by two tattooed adversaries. Finally at 169 ,Kohli slashed Johnson and was caught brilliantly by Haddin flying to his right. While he was returning back the whole MCG was up on their feet to applaud one of the best modern masterpieces.
Virat had a fine stand with Rahane (147) of 250 plus runs and Rahane too scored a superb 100.
It was a most memorable innings and Kohli -Johnson duel was marked as one for the archives as had been many such gripping individual duels in the games history like Lillee- Richards, McGrath-Lara, Tendulkar-Warne, Donald-Atherton etc.
Kohli hit 18 fours in this knock and had another important role to play in 2nd innings when his 54 helped India to draw the game when Australia were threatening to steal a win on the last day.