Basking in the glory of becoming only the 12th Indian cricketer to play 100 Tests, Virat Kohli on Friday said he wants the ‘next generation’ to take inspiration from the fact he could achieve the milestone despite playing in all three formats through a gruelling international schedule.
Indian cricket's reigning superstar was felicitated by the BCCI on Friday commemorating his landmark 100th Test match -- the first game against Sri Lanka here. He was felicitated with a special Test cap by former India skipper and head coach Rahul Dravid before the start of the play.
“In present-day cricket, with the amount of cricket we play with three formats and the IPL, the only takeaway, if the next generation can take from my Test career, is that I was able to strive through and play the purest format of the game and get to 100 Test matches,” Kohli said, with wife Anushka Sharma by his side.
Due to bio-bubble restrictions, it was Dravid, who presented Kohli with a commemorative cap and also a glittering memento. Kohli’s brother Vikas was in the stands. “It is a special moment for me. My wife is here and so is my brother.
“All my family members and coach from childhood, all are proud. It is indeed a team game and it couldn't have been possible without you. Thanks to BCCI as well for giving me this opportunity to represent the Indian cricket team initially and from there on everything has gone from strength to strength.”
“I couldn’t have received it from a better person, one of my childhood heroes. I still have that picture in my house from under-15 NCA days, where I was looking at you and taking a picture with you and today, I get my 100th Test cap from you. So, indeed it's been a great journey and one which hopefully continues to grow,” he added.
Rohit Sharma elected to bat first after winning the toss. India started off on a strong note with both Rohit and Mayank Agarwal playing the Sri Lankan bowlers with ease. However, the hosts lost both openers quickly which brought Virat Kohli into the crease.
The former captain has looked at ease so far and along with Hanuma Vihari stitched a 50-plus-run stand for the unbroken third wicket. He also reached 8000 Test runs on the day.
From the BCCI, president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah, treasurer Arun Dhumal and vice-president Rajiv Shukla were in attendance. Coach Dravid gave a warm speech, waxing eloquent about Kohli's longevity and asked him to ‘double it up’.
“Virat, I am sure when you started out as a kid, you wanted to play one Test match for India and you stand here today on the cusp of your 100th Test match,” the India coach said. “It's a testament to everything that is great in our sport... sweat, discipline, courage, skill, determination, desire, focus, you had it all. You had a great journey. You have done it with class and excellence.”
Kohli joined an illustrious list comprising Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma, who played 100 Tests for the country.
“You can be very proud of not only playing the 100th Test match but also for the great journey that you have navigated through. Congratulations to you and your family on this fantastic achievement,” Dravid said.
“It's well deserved, well earned, and hopefully it is just the start of many things to come. As we say in the dressing room, double it up," the former captain before presenting the cap to Kohli.” Jay Shah also described kohli as the man who redefined Test cricket.
“His journey has been a union of emotion, passion, dedication and determination. To the man who redefined Test cricket and infused it with fresh life, congratulations @imVkohli on this landmark Test. Let's come together and celebrate,” Shah said.