Batting great Virat Kohli on Friday said he felt like starting his career all over again. Playing in his 100th Test, the former India captain scored 45 as the hosts posted 357/6 against Sri Lanka at the close of Day 1 in the first Test.
Kohli was felicitated by the Indian cricket board (BCCI) before the start of the play in Mohali with head coach Rahul Dravid presenting him a commemorative cap and a memento with the 33-year-old's actor wife Anushka Sharma also present in the ceremony.
But Kohli, who last scored an international century in November 2019 against Bangladesh, failed to make the most out of the occasion, falling five runs short of a half-century. He, however, sounded unperturbed.
"I am preparing as I have always prepared. As long as I am batting well, I am not bothered. We are somehow crazy about milestones and materialistic achievements," Kohli said after his knock, which featured five fours.
How however admitted that "it felt like I am making my debut. Had butterflies in my stomach, did feel very nervous."
Kohli, who made his Test India debut in 2011, became the 12th Indian and 71st player overall to complete a century of Test matches after appearing in the Mohali Test. He took 10 years and 257 days to reach this milestone.
During his 76-ball knock, Kohli also became the sixth Indian and 32nd batter overall to complete 8000 runs in Tests. But Kohli, well aware of his slump, admitted that he needs to convert the starts.
"Obviously disappointed as I got a good start. I was batting well. You obviously feel disappointed as a batsman. Endeavour is always to make sure to play a big innings for the team and put the team in a strong position," he said. He was however quick to present the reality, that of living in a COVID-19 world and also the fact that playing all formats and also the Indian Premier League is taking a toll.
"It's not an easy environment to get away from the game and work on things you need to finetune," Kohli added. "It's been tough playing three formats and IPL for so long. Proud of how I have handled my physique, my body."
Kohli relinquished Test captaincy during the turbulent tour of South Africa in controversial circumstances. In the IPL too, he will not lead Royal Challenger Bangalore, having already stepped down as the skipper of the team.
Meanwhile, his successor Rohit Sharma became the 35th player to lead India in Test cricket.
Rohit won the toss and elected to bat first. None of the Indian batters managed to reach the three-figure score but a stream of middling stands helped the host reach an intimidating 357/6.
Rishabh Pant top-scored with 97-ball 96 runs while Hanuma Vihari and Ravindra Jadeja contributed with 58 off 128 and 45 not out off 82. Ravichandran Ashwin was the other unbeaten batter at the close of play on Day 1, on 10 not out off 11.
For the record, this was India's 14th 350+ runs on the opening day of a Test, six of those coming against Sri Lanka.