Virat Kohli Birthday Special: Top 31 knocks by Indian captain on his 31th birthday
Success is not about greatness, it is about consistency as only consistency leads to success and then that is greatness. Virat Kohli has been the epitome of consistency, he has been the torch-bearer of Indian cricket over the past 10 years and is chugging along like a well-oiled machine. As he enters the 31st year of his life, we have tried to collate a list of his inspired knocks in his career so far.
Before this innings, Virat Kohli had not got going in Test cricket and the pressure was starting to build. However, with a defiant innings of 116 versus Australia in Adelaide, he not only saved his Test career but started his domination on Australian soil.
An upbeat Indian side dismissed New Zealand for 192 as Ishant Sharma picked up 6/51. Ajinkya Rahane then scored a century as India posted 438 to gain a big lead.
New Zealand were then reduced to 94/5 before Brendon McCullum (303) and BJ Watling (137) bolted New Zealand to 680/8 on the final day.
India got off to a dodgy start as they were reduced to 54/3. However, Virat Kohli dug in and scored 105 off 135 balls to help India salvage a draw.
Winning the toss, India batted first but found themselves under pressure as they were reduced to 24/2. Virat Kohli, who walked out at number 4, looked in control and assumed charge of things as he scored a sublime 119 to put India in a dominant position in the Test match.
The template of the series was set, Kohli had played two stupendous knocks in Adelaide, but India conceded the match. At MCG, Australia posted a mammoth 530.
Kohli was up for the challenge as he took on Mitchell Johnson and plundered 68 runs off 72 balls from the left-hand fast bowler. He galloped along to 169 and was part of a stunning 262-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane.
He followed this 169 with a match-saving 54 on the final day. This game also marked MS Dhoni’s last Test match.
Virat Kohli was given captaincy of the side as MS Dhoni was declared unfit. He started his tenure with a bang with a glittering 115 in the first innings. India posted 444 in response to Australia’s 517 and in the second innings, the visitors were given a target of 364 in 98 overs.
Virat Kohli took control of the chase and went for the win as he stitched a fighting 185-run partnership with Murali Vijay. However, despite Kohli’s staggering performance and a superb knock of 141, India collapsed as Australia won the match by 48 runs.
After a brief ‘lull’ in 2019, Indian captain Virat Kohli was at his prolific best in the second Test against South Africa at Pune. He slammed a career-best 254 not out in India’s second Test win which vaulted him back above the 900-point mark in the ICC rankings for Test batsmen.
This was Kohli’s first assignment as full-time Test captain. When he walked out to bat, India were in a spot of bother, but after a watchful start, he got going and the hosts had no answers to his strokeplay.
Kohli played with great control and maturity and scored a sublime 103 (his 11th Test ton and 8th away from home).
India were already leading England 2-0 when teams arrived in Mumbai. The captain was in stellar form and he chose Wankhede to slam home his dominance as a batsman and as a leader of the side. He cruised to his 3rd double hundred and it put India in a commanding position. England were eventually brushed aside by an innings and 36 runs.
It was a momentous occasion for Bangladesh, who were playing in India for the first time in Test cricket. However, they were up against a rampant Virat Kohli, who was at his prolific best.
The captain was solid from the outset and blazed 24 boundaries to reach 204 runs off 246 balls.
India were in a firm position in Newlands in the first Test, but the match slipped away from their grasp. They arrived in Centurion with plenty of questions.
Kohli too was under the scanner. However, the captain played one of the grittiest knocks of his career to score 153 and became the second Indian captain to score a hundred in South Africa after Sachin Tendulkar in 1997.
After the disastrous tour in 2014, all eyes were on captain Kohli when he walked out to bat against James Anderson and company in the first Test at Edgbaston. After a watchful start, he opened up and played an outstanding Test innings which lasted for 149 runs. It was his first century in England.
After the losses in Edgbaston and Lord’s India were under extreme pressure and they responded in an emphatic manner. The bowlers stepped up, Kohli scored 97 in the first innings and then followed it up with an even better 103 in the second innings.
England never really got going in the chase as India won the match by 203 runs.
India were under immense pressure after having dropped the first two Test matches against England. Captain Virat Kohli had to respond, and he did. He walked out and played a magical innings of 97 and his partnership with Ajinkya Rahane took the game away from the hosts. Although, he could not get to his century, his innings of 97 went a long way in handing India the win.
Virat Kohli saved one of his best knocks for the biggest stage in international cricket - the World Cup. Against arch-rivals Pakistan, with drums blaring in the stands and a raucous crowd making their presence felt, Kohli remained unfazed. Despite being woefully out of form and short on runs, his confidence remained intact and he strode out to the wicket at the fall of Rohit Sharma’s wicket with the scoreboard reading 34/1. Stitching together partnerships with Dhawan and Raina, Kohli proceeded to notch his 22nd ODI ton, taking India to 300 which proved to be a match-winning one, and becoming the first to strike a century against Pakistan in the World Cup.
The king of run chases came to the party when India needed him the most, in the first ODI of the five-match series against England in 2017. Having been tasked with chasing a mammoth 351 for victory, India were stuttering at 63/4, with Kohli looking on helplessly from one end as wickets tumbled at the other.
However, he finally found some support in the form of Kedar Jadhav and the duo proceeded to stitch together a 200-run stand. Kohli took apart an English attack consisting of Woakes, Willey, Ball and co., racing away to 122 off just 105 balls with 8 fours and 5 sixes. By the time he departed, India were well on course to pull off a sensational chase, which they eventually did, becoming the first side to chase down a 350-run total thrice.
Another special knock reserved for archrivals Pakistan, this would cement Kohli’s legacy as the greatest chaser the game has seen. With political tensions putting a halt to bilateral series between the two teams, it had been almost a year since the two sides had last met - at the semi final of the 2011 World Cup.
A spirited effort from Pakistan’s top-order helped them post a competitive 329, and the Indian response got off to the worst possible start when they lost Gautam Gambhir early on. Kohli walked out at No. 3 and showed his intent from the get-go, dispatching the likes of Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema and co. with absurd ease. He brought up his half-century off 52 balls before truly beginning to free his arms. Alongside Sachin, and then Rohit, Kohli helped India easily overhaul the target with a couple of overs to spare, having occupied the crease for a whopping 211 minutes. Kohli finished with 183 off just 148 deliveries; a knock considered one of his finest till date.
Kohli’s finest knock and the one that signified his arrival on the international stage. India needed a bonus point in their final CB series game against Sri Lanka, but it looked like all hope was lost when the Lankans posted 320 on the board. This meant India needed to overhaul the target within 40 overs.
Kohli strode out to the crease with the score at 86/2 and proceeded to engineer one of the greatest ODI knocks ever witnessed. Cutting, driving and pulling with the utmost authority, he brutalised the Lankan bowling attack, striking 16 fours and 2 sixes to finish with 133 off just 86 balls. Kohli took a special liking to Sri Lanka’s most potent weapon, Lasith Malinga, smashing him for 24 off a single over. With a strike rate of 155, Kohli ensured the Men in Blue cruised to the total within 37 overs.
South Africa were proving to be quite an opponent in the ODI series and it was again upto Virat Kohli, the marquee batsman of the side to take matters into his own hands.
He scored his first ODI century against South Africa and first in 14 innings since the century against Pakistan in World Cup to anchor an authoritative Indian batting performance. The score could not criss 300, but the spinners ensured India had enough to eke out a win.
This century was important for Kohli, the captain. The Indian team had lost to Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, Anil Kumble had quit the job as head coach and Kohli was cornered.
He responded in typical fashion. West Indies had a plan against the Indian captain. In the previous matches, they had tested him out with short-pitched stuff on slow pitches, but the captain was ready in the 5th match. He was willing to play the waiting game and then when he settled in, the pulls, drives and nudges surfaced. His innings led India to a series win and muted many doubters!
An unbeaten side were red-hot favourites as they entered the finals of the 2013 Champions Trophy. They were up against England, but frequent showers curtailed the match to only 20 overs. India were jittery batting first and kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
However, Virat Kohli held fort and he dug in to play an underrated gem. An innings of 43 to steady the Indian ship, as India posted 129, which was just about enough for them to clinch the trophy.
Having firmly established himself as the premium batsman across formats, and returned to India on the back of successful tours of South Africa and England from an individual perspective, Kohli was looking to cement his spot at the top of the ICC rankings and began the series against Windies with a ton in the first ODI, which India went on to win.
His form carried over into Visakhapatnam as well and he took full toll on a rather inexperienced Windies bowling attack, blazing his way to a century off 106 balls. Wickets tumbling at the other end forced Kohli to stay curtail his onslaught though and he ended with a well-compiled 157 off 129 balls, remaining unbeaten. India would go on to tie the game after Shai Hope’s century and Shimron Hetmyer’s 94 brought Windies to within touching distance of a remarkable victory.
One of Kohli’s few centuries that went in vain. Having been set a target of 292 in the first ODI of India’s tour of New Zealand in 2014, Kohli batted his heart out as he looked to get his side over the line. In a game where no other Indian player managed to cross the 45-run mark, Kohli looked like he was batting on a different planet, smashing 11 fours and 2 sixes en route his 123. However, his dismissal to Mitchell McClenaghan triggered a collapse and India went from 237-7 to 268 all out.
India had their moments in the Test series, but could not capitalize as the hosts walked away with the honours. Hence, the ODI series carried a lot of importance. South Africa batted first and on the back of a superb century by captain Faf du Plessis posted 269 runs on the board.
India did not get off to an entirely bright start as they lost both openers for 67, but this set the stage perfectly for captain Virat Kohli to stamp his authority on the match and the series. A 189-runs stand with Ajinkya Rahane for the third wicket pushed India close to the target even as Kohli notched up another match-winning century while chasing in ODIs.
After having won the first two matches, India batted first in the third one at Cape Town. Rohit Sharma was dismissed in the first over, the pitch had pace and bounce and Kohli got off to a nervy start. However, he dug in and scratched around for the initial period, but then settled down to play one of his grittiest innings in ODI cricket. He took India past the 300-run mark and his 160-run innings was one of the best in his career so far.
Kohli had a phenomenal season in the eighth season of the Indian Premier League, accumulating 973 runs in just 16 innings. The right-hander enhanced his image as a chase-master, notching up a 58-ball 108* in a 192-run chase against the Rising Pune Supergiant. Opening the batting with KL Rahul, he slammed eight boundaries and seven sixes in his swashbuckling innings, taking RCB past the finish line in 19.3 overs. This was Kohli’s second three-figure score in the IPL, his first of the 2016 edition.
One of Kohli’s lesser-known innings was against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2013 edition of the IPL. Walking in at the fall of 39/1 in a chase of 162 against a strong bowling line-up, he guided the RCB to the total, scoring 93 unbeaten runs in 60 deliveries. The Bangalore skipper smashed 11 boundaries and four sixes in his brilliant innings at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. He stitched a crucial partnership of 49 runs with AB de Villiers for the fourth wicket, turning the momentum of the game in the home side’s favour.
The Gujarat Lions have been at the receiving end of Kohli’s onslaught multiple times, which include two centuries from his masterful willow. His second hundred against them came in 2016 when he scored a splendid 109 in 2016. Unlike most of his brilliant efforts, this knock came in the first innings, as he collaborated with De Villiers – his partner in crime – to catapult RCB to a total of 248/3 after 20 overs. Striking at a terrific strike rate of 198.18, Kohli became the first and only player to register three 100-plus scores in a single edition of the tournament.
In a rain-curtailed encounter where RCB’s playoff hopes were in danger, Kohli registered a hundred that was magical enough to enhance his reputation as a T20 batsman. His 50-ball 113, which helped RCB surge to the second spot with an 82-run victory, is his fastest century in T20 cricket to date. It was also the right-hander’s fourth 100-plus score of the eighth edition and a knock of prime importance in RCB’s eventual advancement to the final of the tournament.
When it comes to India’s batting effort in the ICC World Cup 2011 final against Sri Lanka, praise is lavished on Gautam Gambhir’s 97 at the top of the order and MS Dhoni’s blazing 91* at No.5. However, Kohli played a crucial knock at two-down, steadying the ship with Gambhir after India lost two quick wickets in a tricky chase. Coming in as a 24-year-old, he held his nerves on the biggest of stages to bring India back into the game, a run at a time. He stitched an 83-run partnership with the left-hander, laying the ideal platform for Dhoni to come in and grab the match by the scruff of its neck.
Coming in at No.4 when India were in a world of trouble at 13/2 after electing to bat in Johannesburg, Kohli played out 106 balls to put add 54 runs to his name. The extravagant side of his game vanished, as the right-hander went back to the basics, putting a price on his wicket. The Indian skipper led from the front, accumulating 100 runs with Cheteshwar Pujara to dig his team out of a hole with his single-minded effort. Kohli’s knock included nine fours and no sixes, and was structured at a relatively low strike-rate of 50.94.
Kohli’s 82 against Australia in a group stage clash in the ICC World T20 at Mohali remains one of his best knocks in the format. He paced the innings to perfection, scoring 73 per cent of his boundaries in the last quarter of the chase. The right-hander exhibited a masterly sense of timing in the knock, piercing the Australian field with the precision of a surgeon. Kohli scored the exact half of India’s eventual total of 161/4, playing a scintillating innings that helped the hosts secure a berth in the semi-final of the tournament.