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BCCI Staff in Mumbai 19 December 2013 - 03:35pm IST

Best I’ve batted in Test cricket: Virat

India’s centurion says Proteas pacers were not threatening

When India lost their second wicket in the first innings at the Wanderers, cricket watchers world over witnessed an unusual sight. The man walking in to bat was not Sachin Tendulkar. Instead, it was Virat Kohli who, for the first time in his short career, walked in at No.4. The baton had officially been passed. Now it was up to the successor to show he was worthy of it. And Virat replied with a century that reminded Allan Donald of a young Sachin Tendulkar.

"I have been waiting for this opportunity to bat up the order," Kohli said. "It's something that I badly wanted to do in Test cricket because I am so used to going in at No. 3 in ODIs. I like to be in the action early on and get in while conditions are tough and then dictate terms. I had a plan in mind that I wanted to stick to, and wasn't thinking about bowling, conditions, or the wicket. I just wanted to execute my plan."

During his 181-ball knock, Virat displayed patience and guts in equal measure. He stood tall against the barrage of short balls hurled by the Proteas speedsters, pulling the ball with authority and aplomb. He said it was the part of his plan.

"I always had it in mind that we were all going to get short stuff unless you attack them. So rather get out playing your shots than fishing outside the off stump,” Virat said. “I was prepared and I was watching the ball closely. Later on they started bowling at the fifth-sixth [stump], so I don't know where that bodyline bowling went. It is all about dictating terms when you bat. You can't always play under pressure. Let them know you are here to compete. We have shown we have learnt from mistakes, we have practised hard. We stuck to plans, and you will see us improving as we play next."

The confidence that Virat exuded while batting was apparent in his end-of-day press conference too. After walking the walk, Virat talked the talk.
"I don't think they were threatening at all," Kohli said of South Africa's bowling attack. "They are quality bowlers, but it was about respecting the conditions early on when you went in and the kind of bowling you were facing after that. You have got to get in and back yourself throughout. If they are good enough to play at this level, so are you. I had that belief, but had to respect the good balls that are being thrown at you. At the same time, you have got to be aware of cashing in on opportunities that are presented. That was key to my knock today, I latched on to whatever chances came my way, putting them away for boundaries."

Virat’s innings may have lasted only 257 minutes. But its inception began months ago. "Funny because even during the ODIs versus Australia, I was thinking about getting a Test hundred in South Africa," he said. "That was all that was on my mind. I wasn't even focusing on those ODIs or any other games we played against 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 was very pleasing to do so. It is probably the best I have batted in Test cricket till now. It is just about building on to it and it feels nice when you plan something and it comes together, especially against a world-class bowling attack,” Virat beamed.