India did claim a 2-1 series win against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, but the fourth Test – a draw in Ahmedabad – also marked a 75th international century for Virat Kohli. The 34-year-old’s 28th Test ton on the fourth day of the match was his first Test century since November 2019.
The match was eventually drawn at stumps on the fifth day.
Expectations of the star batter have never dwindled despite the long wait for a century, but he asserted that the yardsticks he has set for himself are the ones that matter most to him.
“To be honest, the expectations that I have from myself as a player, they are more important to me. In Test cricket I wasn’t able to play with my tempo and the template that I have played with for the last 10 years for a while now. So that was the one thing that I was trying to do,” he said in the post-match presentation after being named the player of the match.
“We focus more on trying to bat for as long as possible and trying to get the important runs for the team. I did that on a few occasions but not to the capabilities that I have and what I have done in the past. From that perspective I was a bit disappointed, but there was a belief there that I was playing well and if I get an opportunity on a decent wicket then I can get a big one.”
Despite Kohli’s high standards and demands from himself, there was a shortage of runs in the first three matches. In the opener in Nagpur, he scored 12. In New Delhi, he scored 44 and 20 in the second Test, followed by 22 and 13 in Indore. At Ahmedabad though, Kohli martialled the Indian innings, aided by Shubhman Gill’s 128, to top score with 186.
“(There was) relief from the point of view that I could play the way that I wanted to play, and I was patient enough and I wasn’t getting desperate out there at all. I was happy with my defence and the way I was going, with the tempo I was going with. There wasn’t relief from an achievements perspective – I’m not in a space where I necessarily need to go out there and prove someone wrong,” he said.
“People do have that belief in me because I have done it for a while, but I need to do that as well to justify me being here on the field as well. It’s part of playing sport. From all those perspectives, I’m happy that I was able to do it for the team and get the runs that were required.”
His solid knock came on the back of 364 deliveries, a patient innings laced with 15 boundaries. Yet the tempo of his innings was by design.
“When I was 60 not out, we did think about playing positively the next day, but unfortunately we lost Shreyas Iyer to injury and he could not bat, so we were a batter less. The plan was to just bat time and make sure the opposition doesn’t sneak into the game, because they are very good at doing that – finding opportunities and getting into the game,” he added.
“I was happy with the tempo because of those reasons. The way the innings went, I felt they put some very nice fields and they were very consistent with the ball. They were not providing many boundary balls to me at all, and I didn’t want to create any because we were a batter short and that would have meant we were just trying to make ends meet. In the end we got the result, from the batting point of view, that’s what we wanted. We got the lead and gave ourselves a little bit of a chance, so everything went along with the plan.”
Australia had won the toss and opted to bat. The visitors put on an impressive 480 on the board in the first innings – courtesy Usman Khawaja’s 180 and Cameron Green’s 114. India however replied with 571 with Kohli and Gill starring with the bat. Australia then came out to bat again and managed 175/2 at stumps on Day 5 to end the match in a tie.
The Australians will stay on in India to compete in the three-match One-Day International Series, starting with the first match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on March 17.
Watch the entire post-match presentation here.