Former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar revealed an anecdote about Virat Kohli’s single-mindedness before one of his best overseas Test centuries against Faf du Plessis’ men at Supersport Park in Centurion in January, 2018.

During India’s 2017’-18 tour of South Africa, Kohli scored one of the best centuries of his career albeit in a match that India lost. Kohli hit a masterly 153 in India’s first innings of 307 to stay in touch in Centurion, even though South Africa stretched a 28-run first innings lead and eventually won the match.

Waging a lone battle, Kohli batted for 380 minutes, faced 217 balls and hit 15 fours. It was his 21st Test century. He was the last man out when he was caught in the deep, off Morne Morkel, hitting to one of eight fielders on the boundary as he tried to squeeze some extra runs with his tailenders having shown they were ill-equipped to handle fast bowlers wielding the second new ball.

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While Kohli has often mentioned that a century in a losing cause is not something he relishes, it was a knock of sublime quality. Bangar spoke about it during commentary on day one of the series opener in Centurion when the Indian captain came out to bat in the second session on day one.

Here’s what he had to say:

It was a fabulous innings in Centurion. In the first Test match in second innings [first innings actually], the way Virat got out was caught behind against Morne Morkel. During the course of that dismissal it seemed his backfoot was going towards the leg side. When you mention that to a batter of his calibre, it certainly hurts the ego. Which probably spurred him, when he entered the nets session at Centurion. We were very sure – because of the kind of history that was there in India-SA series because when they toured India we played on very, very turning tracks and one of them was blacklisted by ICC – about the kind of pitches we were going to encounter. So when he got into the nets, he asked the throwdown specialists to hurl the ball at him as fast as they can. The first couple of deliveries, hit him on the gloves...then one hit him on the helmet. We asked if he still wanted to continue at that pace. He said ‘no matter how many times I get hit, I want them to hurl the balls at me as fast as they could.’ That is the sign of what was to happen in the next Test. Kind of stuff that legends are made of. 

— via Star Sports commentary