Over the last few months, Virat Kohli had a secret obsession that was nestled deep in his heart: a hundred in South Africa.
On a day when he achieved that besides registering his highest ever score (119) in Tests (the previous best being the 116 against Australia at Adelaide),
Kohli revealed: “Even during the ODIs against Australia, I was thinking about getting a Test hundred in South Africa. That was all that was on my mind, wasn’t even focussing on those ODIs or any other games we played against the West Indies.
“Every training session we had I was motivating myself to do something like this.
“Because I know how special it has been for players to get a hundred in South Africa. It’s probably the best I have batted in Test cricket till now. Feels nice when you plan something and it comes together, especially against a world class bowling attack.”
Batting at number four and slipping into Sachin Tendulkar’s shoes surely must have weighed on his mind and Kohli said: “Knew that I might get to play at that spot once he (Tendulkar) retires and it’s a big challenge since he has done so much at that spot.
“For me it’s all about scoring runs at any spot that I bat at, nice to get early into action.”
Kohli was prepared for some ‘chin music’ and cheekily he said: “I was watching closely and I was getting into position whenever they put that extra effort, later on they started bowling at the fifth and sixth stump so I don’t know where that bodyline bowling went!”
Later, South Africa’s bowling coach Allan Donald said that Kohli reminded him of Tendulkar. “He (Kohli) showed great discipline and responsibility. It reminds me of Sachin Tendulkar when they came here in 1996. Kohli left the ball and when we were slightly off the line he punished the ball.
“He paced his innings very well. He put up his hand today and showed real fight. A lot has been said about him replacing the great Tendulkar’s boots. Today he made the statement,”
Donald said but added that the game has not run away from the Proteas. “It was not a great day but it was a good day. India never really took the game away from us,” he said.