Kohli finds Tendulkar’s shoes a good fit

Virat Kohli made a century of some significance on Wednesday,

not least because it came from Sachin Tendulkar’s No. 4 spot in

India’s first test since the great batsman retired.

Chosen as the successor to cricket’s most prolific run-scorer

and India’s most worshipped player, Kohli responded immediately to

the responsibility with a disciplined, gritty and at times

swashbuckling 119 under pressure, blending the qualities that made

Tendulkar the best batsman of the modern era.

For Kohli’s young career, it was also his highest test score and

first international century in South Africa, and he called it his

best innings in the five-day format.

”Obviously a lot was expected of me,” Kohli said of moving up

to Tendulkar’s place in India’s batting lineup. ”To block that

(out) and focus on your plan and execute it to get your hundred is

very pleasing.”

Kohli’s hundred also came at time when India desperately needed

it. He arrived at the crease with his team 24-2 against the best

quick bowling attack and the top-ranked team in tests, piling more

pressure on the already immense expectation that comes with

replacing a batsman who is considered irreplaceable.

”I wasn’t thinking about (Tendulkar), to be honest,” Kohli

said. ”I knew that I might get to play on that spot once he

retires, and obviously it is a big challenge because he has done so

much at that spot. For me, it’s all about scoring runs wherever I

go in to bat.”

He said his immediate reaction to being picked at No. 4 was:

”Big shoes to step into.”

No doubt.

It’s way too early to compare the 25-year-old Kohli to

Tendulkar, who scored mountains of runs for India in 200 tests over

more than two decades after making his debut as a curly-haired

teenager. But South Africa bowling coach Allan Donald still drew

comparisons after Kohli’s innings had completely revived India on

the first day of the opening test at the Wanderers.

Donald, a former quick bowler who had many battles with

Tendulkar, said he was especially impressed with the way Kohli

combined a solid defense on a quick, bouncy pitch with flourishing

attacking strokes and a fierce determination- all hallmarks of

Tendulkar’s play.

”The one word (that) comes to me is responsibility,” Donald

said of Kohli’s innings, possibly an early landmark in his young

test career. ”I think he showed great discipline and

responsibility. And it reminds me of Sachin Tendulkar. There’s one

person that always jumps out at you and always plays the situation

and plays for his team when the chips are down and that was Sachin

Tendulkar.

”And that’s what comes to mind when I saw Kohli play

today.”

Follow Gerald Imray at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP