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15 January, 2018

Kohli redeems self, will the others stand up?

Captain Virat Kohli made amends for his First Test failures by emulating his idol Sachin Tendulkar. Where are the others?

By Francis Adams

Virat Kohli, India's lone ranger in batting in the second Test. Pic courtesy:
You'll find several stories of redemption about our icon and God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, among
them helping win the World Cup in his sixth appearance.

On Monday, Virat Kohli, who idolised Tendulkar while learning the ropes as a chubby-boy cricketer, redeemed himself with a sublime 153 in India's first innings. By doing so, he emulated Tendulkar as only the second India captain to notch a hundred in South Africa.

While Tendulkar used to look heavenwards after scoring a hundred as if thanking his late father for watching over him, Kohli set the social media buzzing by kissing his wedding ring from Bollywood star Anushka Sharma, after he reached his century.

His innings looked effortless to us cricket fans, yet judging from expert comments and Kohli's own chatter grabbed by the stump mic, especially during his 45 runs partnership with Hardik Pandya, you as an ardent cricket fan, could understand it was tough.

Apart from the onus of proving his critics wrong, Kohli also owed 17 teenage boys, currently playing for India in the ICC under-19 World Cup in New Zealand, a big hundred. A day before, he had exhorted these youngs boys to convert 50s and 60s into 130s and 140s so that they can stand out from the rest and get noticed.

"If other people get 50s and 60s, I would tell the batsmen to go out and get 120s and 130s at that level. And that's how you stand out. And people take notice of you," he had said in his special message. See video here, courtesy

Kohli was speaking from his own experience. He played few mesmerising knocks in the 2008 edition of the under-19 World Cup as he led India to the trophy.

Among the most watched from that edition is his 100 against the West Indies. See video here, courtesy

Back to the Centurion, at the end of Day 3, South Africa galloped ahead on the back of AB de Villiers, another flamboyant strokemaker and a good friend of Kohli. AB made matters worse for India with his quickfire 50 off 78 balls.

The more Kohli hopes he can get a foot in the door and see a ray of victory for India, the more de Villiers scuppers that plan like he did in the First Test.

And Centurion is de Villiers's home ground where he has scored seven fifties in the last eight Test
Although AB de Villiers played onto his stumps in the first
innings, he made good in his second. Pic courtesy:
matches he has played.

South Africa will look to pile as many runs on the foruth day. Their aim will be to bat the day out and put India under pressure with an unachievable fourth innings score and, probably, the entire fifth day to bat.

How many from India's playing XI, other than Kohli, will stand up and be noticed?

Only Ravichandran Ashwin in both batting and bowling, and to some extent Ishant Sharma in his untiring bowling effort.

The others, including Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Partiv Patel, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have done little in this second Test to make themselves standout with their performance.

They will provide you --  the eternally optimistic Indian cricket fan -- the opportunity on Tuesday and Wednesday (January 16 and 17), to red-ink their report card or blue-ink it.