Virat Kohli’s 100: Kohli has broken his dry spell. He is back and he is different

It has been compared to Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international ton or Kapil Dev’s 431st wicket to become the then highest wicket taker in the world. But Virat Kohli’s 71st ton that ended the hundred drought in a desert city feels different. Where Tendulkar’s and Kapil’s were the last landmarks of their brilliant careers before they passed the baton to talented youngsters, Kohli’s comes with hope for the future. His own, and the team’s.

There is no denying that he has been struggling with the bat for a while and mentally as well, by his own admission, ever since he quit Test captaincy. A man who once said in an interview that, contrary to most others, he sees his batting as “70 per cent technical”, now seems to be coming around to the more conventional wisdom of “happy space” as the key trigger for high-quality play. This critical crossroads in his career could lead to a more fascinating space. At Asia Cup, he has certainly looked more relaxed. The veins haven’t popped when fielding, he hasn’t run wild with manic roars when a wicket falls, his celebrations after the hundred weren’t angry. They were the reactions of a man who seems more at peace with himself.

The question is whether or not this is a long-lasting change. There is nothing wrong if it doesn’t last of course — after all, his flamboyance and aggression was his template for success. But it will be interesting to see if the recent course-corrections that, in his own telling of the story, have come about after chats with his wife, are permanent. He says he has discovered the ideal way to bat in the T20s, a mixture of his past, where he focused on gaps, and the present, where his intent is to keep the score ticking along. Beyond T20, though, his new comfort with himself offers hope for his Test career to resume its imperious march.

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