Virat Kohli: In those big No.4 boots
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Dale Steyn's bouncer was fairly quick as always, clocking 144 kph. It was also heading towards Virat Kohli's throat. As always there was little time to react. But Kohli was ready.
The thwack off the bat was audible around the Wanderers, the sound magnified especially at the Corlett Drive end thanks to the Bullring-like setup. The ball had already hit the fence at the deep square-leg fence by the time Steyn had finished his follow through. Not surprisingly, the South African pacer had plenty to say. But all Kohli responded with was a wry smile. He didn't have to say much. The pull shot had done the talking for him. Next over, Steyn was taken off the attack.
On what could well be defined as his finest hour as a Test batsman, the 25-year-old played many shots, some delicate but mostly authoritative and imperious. He had in fact executed a similarly commanding pull off Jacques Kallis to open his account a while earlier. But it was this particular one off Steyn, which took him to 41, that really set the tone.
Eventually, Kohli's fifth Test century, and his most memorable one to date, ended up guiding India to 255/5 after Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and took the bold decision to bat first.
It was into a cauldron that Kohli had walked into with Morne Morkel breathing fire. The score was reading 24/2 and the openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, had been set up by short-pitched deliveries. The prophecy was almost coming true. India were being made to look susceptible with the going at its toughest.
Kohli didn't start off too convincingly. Morkel was in the middle of a spell similar to the one that he had welcomed India with in Centurion last time around. Kohli was more than happy to see him off. He shouldered arms to 11 off the first 24 deliveries bowled to him. Then came a nasty bouncer from Morkel. A streaky boundary resulted as the ball took the splice of his hanging bat and flew towards third-man. The next ball hit his inside edge and just missed his leg-stump. He was also beaten once by Steyn as the pacer went wide off the crease and got the ball to straighten off the angle. But Kohli was undeterred. Next ball, he moved into the line and tucked away for a boundary.