Kohli's still last man standing, time for others to show up

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 15, 2018 19:36 hrs
Virat Kohli hit a magnificent hundred to keep India alive in the series

Virat Kohli. You may be baffled at his captaincy choices dropping Ajinkya Rahane (the star of the last South Africa series) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (the star of the first Test) in the second Test at Centurion.

You may have such high expectations from him that you want him to be dropped after just one bad Test. Here are the runs scored by the specialist batsmen in the Cape Town Test: Kohli 33, Shikhar Dhawan 32, Cheteshwar Pujara 30, Rohit Sharma 21 and Murali Vijay 14. So then why did Virender Sehwag just single out Kohli for his batting form recently?

However if there's one constant in the international cricketing world, it's this: No matter what the year, no matter what the format, no matter what the country, no matter what the surface and no matter what the circumstances, Kohli will score runs. That's a given.

The Indian captain probably has more expectations than even Sachin Tendulkar and despite everything he delivers no matter what. Now he's done it again in the second South Africa series at Centurion. So it was Kohli, and not any of the South African batsmen playing on home soil, who hit the first century of the Test series.

The celebration and aggression that Kohli showed when he got his century was just like as if he got his first. Kohli's hunger for runs is always at its peak no matter what the occasion. Kohli had a false start in Tests but now has hit 21 centuries in his last 58 matches. His brilliant 153 helped India recover from a top-order collapse and post 307 in reply to South Africa's 335.

Kohli is on course to go past most of Tendulkar’s records.

Read: Here's why all of Tendulkar's records could be broken!

But Kohli's knock in the context of the game cannot be more emphasized. Kohli was the only thing standing between South Africa and an early unbeatable 2-0 lead in the series.

None of the batsmen looked comfortable on South African soil and in the first Test it was only the bowler duo of Hardik Pandya and Bhuvi who managed to stay for some length of time at the crease.

In the second Test, Kohli entered at 28/2 when two wickets fell in two balls and fans started groaning that another spectacular top order collapse seemed to be on the cards.

But the captain soaked in all the pressure as he hit a couple of fours in just his fourth and fifth balls.

A picture of supreme confidence, Kohli played positively and aggressively, to build the Indian innings with a 79-run third wicket partnership with Vijay to ensure that India was always in the hunt.

Vijay lasted a good 126 balls for his 46 but squandered it all away in the hands of a spinner no less in the form of Keshav Maharaj. Then Pandya just strolled above the crease to be run out in a freakish manner that is becoming the hallmark of the series.

Kohli watched with frustration at the other end. It was a case of one Indian batsman failing after another. Either they couldn't cope at the very beginning, or they threw it all away once they settled down.

Not Kohli though. Of course it wasn't a chanceless knock. Kohli had a few near-misses and a DRS scare, but he delivered the goods in the end and that's more important. Kohli showed intent and kept egging on all his batting partners as they kept coming and going.

Even when the new ball was taken, he attacked it even though it was nullified with quick wickets falling at the other end.

One refreshing change to the Indian batting is the way they play the short ball. In the 1980s and 1990s this used to be our nemesis and our batsmen were petrified of the short ball and never could face them.

Now most top order Indian batsmen can leave, defend or hit the short balls quite comfortably. Of course they spoil it all by getting out to bad balls. Not Kohli though! He can clobber the short ball and hit both good and bad balls!

Read: Kohli ka 1 2 ka 4 aur 4 2 ka 1

But of course it's getting quite monotonous to see just Kohli remain the last man standing the way Tendulkar used to be in the 1990s. One hopes that another top order batsman puts up his hands soon or another whitewash is looming.

Cricket after all is a team game and not a one-man game, even if that one man happens to be a reliable all-weather superstar like Kohli!

More from Sify: