It is perhaps safe to term the 2014 tour to England as the toughest in Virat Kohli’s illustrious career so far. The Indian captain has had a similar below-par series even in New Zealand last year but the struggles of the 2014 England tour was at a different level. James Anderson had his number. He was beaten both on the outside and the inside edges of his bat. But in his next tour to England in 2018, Kohli did not get out to Anderson even once, scored 593 runs in five Tests to announce to the world that he is indeed a modern-day great in any condition.
Fast forward to June 3, 2021, Kohli reached England with a lot riding on his shoulders than just steering India in a bilateral series. He will be the flag bearer of India’s batting line-up in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
So what is the difference between the Kohli of 2014 and the Kohli of 2021 who landed in England for his third Test series? In Team India head coach Ravi Shastri’s words, he is ‘slimmer’, ‘fitter’, ‘most successful Indian captain’ and ‘five and half thousand runs richer’.
Shastri is not too far off from his assessment. Ever since that nightmarish outing against England 7 years ago, Kohli has only grown in stature both as a captain and also as a Test batsman.
“The difference between the Virat Kohli of 2014 (England vs India tour) and today is that he’s slimmer, fitter, the most successful Indian Test captain, and only five and a half thousand runs richer,” Shastri said in a virtual press conference before Indian team left for the UK.
When Kohli was asked to answer the same question, the Indian captain was far more reserved in his answer.
“If in 2014, you would have told me that in 2021 I’m going to play the WTC final, I would have had a tough time believing that. I have stopped looking at series as ultimate tasks or goals. It’s about leading the team in the right way,” Kohli responded.