When tales are spoken about the emergence of the Indian cricket team as a modern force in the later part of the 21st century, the ADA-VDCA stadium in Vizag will feature very prominently. It is this venue that signalled the arrival of two individuals who would change the face of cricket.
On April 5, 2005, the India vs Pakistan game at this venue saw the emergence of a superstar from Jharkhand. MS Dhoni, playing without fear and inhibition blasted 148 off 123 balls. The knock provided the Indian public a glimpse of how big this player would be and how the team would approach the game in the coming years.
Thirteen years, seven months and nineteen days later, Virat Kohli scored a century against West Indies at the same venue. If Dhoni’s knock signalled a new era, then Kohli’s 157* signalled a paradigm shift.
The Indian skipper broke Sachin Tendulkar’s record of the fastest to 10,000 ODI runs. Not only that, he went past 1000 runs in a calendar year in just 11 innings at a strike-rate of over 100 and an average of close to 150. In addition, he broke Tendulkar’s record of quickest to 4000 ODI runs at home. Following the Vizag knock, Kohli is on track to knock Tendulkar, considered one of the greatest batsmen ever with over 34000 international runs, from the top pedestal.
All these numbers are simply staggering. Kohli’s milestone in Vizag has achieved two things. One, it has obliterated any sadness that the 90s Indian cricket fan would feel in this period which is the post-Tendulkar retirement era. Second, the dominance of Kohli has given fans the comfort that there is someone who can carry the hopes and expectations very safely in the quest for glory.
In the 90s, Tendulkar was the gold standard when it came to batting and performance. Each time he scored a century, the crowd would erupt with joy. A cheap dismissal would elicit shock, anger and nervousness. In the current period, these similar emotions are reserved for Kohli.
Every stroke he plays draws gasps of joy. Each time he is out cheaply, India’s fans feel that the match is well and truly lost. It is now an established fact. Whenever Kohli steps out on the field, a fifty is the bare minimum of expectation and a century is almost a given.
On course for greatness
Kohli’s appetite for runs is simply amazing and he is on course to break every record held by Tendulkar in ODIs. He is just 13 away from overhauling Tendulkar’s mark of 49 centuries. He is 8350 runs behind the Master Blaster. In his 10 years of playing, Kohli has gone past 1000 runs six times. If he plays for another eight years, which is till the 2027 World Cup, he can establish himself as the new gold standard of batting and overhaul Tendulkar’s run-tally.
The Vizag ODI proved to the world that Indian cricket has moved on from the Tendulkar-era and is now firmly on the path of the Kohli-era dominance.