History beckons Kohli ahead of final Test

After leading the country to a Test series win over South Africa in a decade, Kohli is all set to become the third Delhi cricketer to captain the country on his home ground, the Feroz Shah Kotla, during the fourth and final Test of the series.

Virat Kohli will become the first Delhi player in 39 years to lead the country on his backyard.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

From achieving one rare feat to another, Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli seems destined to add new chapters to his glorious cricketing journey.

After leading the country to a Test series win over South Africa in a decade, Kohli is all set to become the third Delhi cricketer to captain the country on his home ground, the Feroz Shah Kotla, during the fourth and final Test of the series between the two teams starting here on Thursday.

When Kohli goes out for the toss at the Kotla, he will become the first Delhi player in 39 years to lead the country in his backyard.

Bedi captained the side in 1976

 

Legendary left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi was the last cricketer from the city to have done so in a Test against England in 1976. India had lost that match to the Tony Greig-led side by an innings and 25 runs, thanks to the efforts of seven for 46 and three for 24 by debutant fast bowler John Lever – who later got embroiled in the Vaseline controversy.

Bedi recalled, “Honestly, I don't think I was different from the rest. I was just one of them and there was no great excitement of leading India on home ground. Those were different times. There was no hype or glamour. I remember we did not even stay at a five-star hotel. Cricket definitely was much more enjoyable.”

Apart from Bedi, the debonair Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was the other Delhi player to have captained India at the historic ground. Pataudi, who played domestic cricket for the capital city from 1960 to 1964, led the country in a drawn Test against England in 1964.

Pataudi’s unbeaten 203 in 1964

Interestingly, Pataudi’s highest Test score (203 not out) had come in that match in 1964. But he did not rate his knock high. He wrote in Tiger’s Tale, “I got 200-odd in the fourth Test at Delhi, which wasn’t a great innings, although the records show it as the highest ever against England by an Indian. The first 90-odd runs were helpful because they came at a time when India was trying to save the match, whereas the remainder had no bearing on the result, which was another draw.” It must rank as one of the most self-deprecating appraisal indeed.

Pataudi went on to captain India at the Kotla in two more Tests—against New Zealand (1965) and Australia (1969)—which the host won by an identical margin of seven wickets each. However, by that time Pataudi had switched his allegiance to Hyderabad.

 

Kohli’s second consecutive Test series win

For 27-year-old Kohli, the South Africa series has to be a memorable one. With India taking a 2-0 lead in the third Test in Nagpur, Kohli had a rare privilege of ending up on the winning side in his first home series as captain, the earlier deed coming against Sri Lanka when India came back after losing the first Test. This was his second consecutive series win since taking over from M. S. Dhoni in the fourth and last Test against Australia in Sydney in January last.

So far, India has ensured victory in four of the nine Tests led by Kohli. India losing two and drawing three matches shows a good success rate for the team under its new Test captain. Wearing the India blazer at the Kotla will certainly be a proud moment for captain Kohli. He made his first-class debut at Kotla in 2006-07 against Tamil Nadu.

Incidentally, Kohli's India-teammate M. Vijay's first-class debut had come in the same match, which Delhi won. They can take a pleasant peep into the past as they prepare for the Test.