Virat Kohli is not convinced his epic 149 against England at Edgbaston is his best Test innings. It was Kohli’s first Test century in England – he had had a torrid time on his only other visit in 2014 – and it helped pull India back into the Test after Sam Curran had wiped out the top order before lunch on the second day. Kohli ended up making more than half the runs India made and, vitally, allowed England just a minor lead of 13 runs.
Kohli admitted that it was a test both mentally and physically to survive the conditions and the England fast-bowling attack led by James Anderson, but he would still rank his second-innings century in Adelaide in 2014 as his best effort in the longest format.
Kohli was one of two players, along with David Warner, to record twin centuries in that Adelaide Test. In a high-scoring affair, India were set a target of 364 on the final day. Kohli, who was the stand-in captain at the time, was clear that India would go for the target. India fell short by 49 runs, as Kohli made 141.
“I am not sure [that Edgbaston is my best]. This could probably come in second to Adelaide,” Kohli told bcci.tv. “Adelaide still remains very special to me because it was second innings, and we were chasing a target. And I had total clarity that we are going for the target. Not once did I think that we are not. That was a beautiful zone to be in.”
That’s not to say Kohli was making light of the hard slog at Edgbaston: “I am very happy … [to have] this opportunity to help the team this way and pull us back in the Test match and compete. That is what we’re here to do: we are here to compete, we are here to fight and we are going to keep doing that.”
Kohli said his main aim here was to take the total as close to England’s 287 as possible. “It was difficult, but I told myself that it’s important to enjoy this and take it upon me as a challenge to take the team far and take the innings deep. It was a test of physical and mental strength, but I’m glad that we could come close to their total and remain pretty much in the game.”
The fight he waged against England’s bowling attack was a quiet one for the most part. A score of 54 for 2 – at which point Kohli had walked in – had become 100 for 5. Kohli now had just the lower order in allrounders Hardik Pandya and R Aswhin and the tail to rely on. He stitched together a 48-run partnership with Pandya and then 21 for the seventh wicket.
Then it was into the tail, and Kohli responded with 92 runs from 116 balls; the three tailenders accounted for 8 runs from 37 balls. Kohli said the lower order and tail gave him ample support, building his confidence. “I have to commend the tail as well; Hardik batted really well after we lost five, and then the way Ishant and Umesh applied themselves… I think it was an outstanding effort from them also. So I have to give a lot of credit to them for getting us this close, because they got stuck in there and supported me really well, and I could feel confident about them being out there, which is very important.”
The one disappointment for Kohli was being unable to take a small lead, which became his new target as India advanced towards the England total. However, the prized wicket of Alastair Cook late in the day put the smile back on Kohli’s face. “It wasn’t just about getting to the three-figure mark, but to continue from thereon. I was very disappointed when I got out as well, because I thought we could’ve taken a 10-15 runs lead, but in hindsight we wouldn’t have been able to bowl then.”