Courtesy: Dawn News/AFP
Indian superstar Virat Kohli hit his first Test century in over three years on Sunday, ending his long drought and sparking raucous celebrations at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.
“King Kohli”, one of cricket’s biggest names, admitted last year to mental health struggles as his magic with the bat deserted him. He also lost the Indian captaincy, one of the most high-pressure jobs in world sport.
But on Sunday, having already returned to form with ODI and T20 centuries in recent months, the long wait for his 28th Test ton ended in the fourth Test against Australia.
Resuming on 59 after reaching his first Test half-century on Saturday since January 2022, the landmark came after a patient innings of 241 balls as he eased Nathan Lyon for a single.
Appearing to tear up, the heavily tattooed 34-year-old acknowledged the crowd and the dressing room before kissing the locket on his gold chain as he smiled and looked up to the sky.
“A 600-kilo gorilla is off his back. He will grow a couple of inches taller by this evening,” shouted commentator and former India coach Ravi Shastri.
Australia’s stand-in-skipper Steve Smith applauded on the ground, and a placard in the crowd read “Here to see King Kohli ruling in his kingdom”, as children in India shirts bowed in respect.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: “Good to see @imVkohli back scoring a Test ton … Love watching him Bat … Over three years since his last one .. My guess is a few might come along now”.
Test century makers for India behind Sachin Tendulkar (51 — the highest overall), Rahul Dravid (36) and Sunil Gavaskar (34).
Kohli had spoken about his mental health struggles during his dry phase, including how he had been “snappy” around his Bollywood actor wife Anushka Sharma, with whom he has a young daughter.
Pundits, among them former World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev, even suggested Kohli should be dropped during his lean phase last year.
The former top-ranked batsman revealed during the 2022 Asia Cup that only Mahendra Singh Dhoni sent him messages of support during a tough phase of mental struggle after quitting the Test captaincy.