In an era where Test cricket is struggling to attract sizeable crowds, the Wankhede Stadium portrayed a magical picture as a packed weekend crowd thronged the arena to witness their favourite batsman in action.
Indian captain Virat Kohli treated them to a sumptuous batting display by tormenting the bowlers without any mercy. With sound footwork as well as imperious stroke-play, he took the game beyond England’s reach and placed his team on the brink of a rousing series victory.
While he broke several records during the course of his 235, let us take a look at five of those which are of huge significance.
#5 – Highest score by an Indian batsman against England
Prior to Kohli’s master class, the highest score by an Indian batsman in a Test innings against England belonged to Vinod Kambli. Interestingly, the flamboyant left-hander had scored 224 off 411 balls at the same venue against Graham Gooch’s visitors in 1993.
As with this Test, England won the toss but could not capitalize on the advantage. In response to a first-innings total of 347, India rode on the back of Kambli’s heroics to take a 244-run lead. It was more than enough for the spin troika of Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan to seal an innings victory and the accompanying 3-0 whitewash.
#4 – Most runs by an Indian batsman in a series against England
Under the ambitious leadership of Sourav Ganguly, a new-look Indian team stepped onto English shores during the summer of 2002. The first Test turned out to be a disappointment for them as Nasser Hussain’s side cruised to a 170-run win. But, the tide began to change from the next game onwards when the home team’s bowlers were intercepted by ‘The Wall’.
From the second innings of the Trent Bridge Test till the end of the series, Rahul Dravid’s scores read – 115, 148 and 217. India surged to an innings victory at Headingley with Dravid amassing as many as 602 runs from only six innings in the drawn series. Kohli has already piled on 640 runs from seven innings and could take his tally even further with one more match remaining in this series.
#3 – First Indian batsman to score 3 double centuries in a calendar year
When the year began, Kohli‘s highest score in a Test innings was 169 which came against Australia at the iconic MCG. Needless to say, the naysayers were quite reluctant to include him in the company of other leading batsmen in the game’s traditional format citing his lack of ‘daddy-hundreds’.
Kohli has silenced them in style by reeling off not just one but three double centuries in the calendar year. Fittingly, he completed his maiden double ton at a venue named after the legendary Sir Viv Richards. Subsequently, New Zealand bore the brunt of his blade at the Holkar Stadium in Indore when the skipper added 365 with Ajinkya Rahane.
En route to his 235 in Mumbai, the 28-year old became the first Indian batsman and the fifth overall to reach 200 thrice in the same year.
#2 – Highest score by an Indian captain in a Test innings
Prior to this Test, there had been only six instances of Indian captains reaching the 200-mark in an innings with MS Dhoni leading the list. During the course of his heroics in Antigua and Indore, Kohli came close to eclipsing the former wicket-keeper batsman’s 224 against Australia in the 2013 Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
But, the star batsman has now surpassed his predecessor and moved to the top of the table. His dominance can be ascertained by the fact he already possesses four of the top ten knocks by an Indian skipper. As captain, Kohli’s Test average of 65.50 (*as of 11th December, 2016) is only second to Sir Don Bradman himself.
#1 – First batsman in cricket history to average 50-plus in all three formats
Almost every accomplished batsman has had a breakthrough year which propelled him towards the path to glory. For Kohli, 2016 could be that year wherein he finally upped the ante in the game’s traditional format. Be it Tests, ODIs or T20Is, these twelve months have been nothing short of sensational for a batsman who is at the peak of his prowess.
As things stand currently, Kohli has become the first batsman in cricket history to hold a fifty-plus average in all three formats of the game (among those with a decent sample set of at least 10 matches in each format). With Chennai awaiting him for the fifth Test, there is still room for one more abiding memory before 2016 comes to a close.