There was an awful lot of fuss after the first half of Virat Kohli’s innings. People said he was unreal, a genius – an unreal genius. Sunil Gavaskar said he was from another planet and lest anyone ask which one, he specified that it was an undiscovered planet.
They said all sorts of things, but the general theme was that Kohli was operating on another plane of existence, playing cricket with almost unimaginable brilliance.
As a result of this, we resolved to pay careful attention today. We wanted to appreciate his extaordinary otherness and drink in his magnificence. If more splendour was in the offing, we were going to quaff it. Every last bit of it.
But you know what? We were left hugely disappointed. Virat Kohli really let us down.
It just seemed so normal. If Kohli was doing anything special, then it was playing like all the other batsmen but for slightly longer. At one point the crowd did an enormous amount of shouting and clapping, but by that point he’d been in ages and we rather felt like we’d seen it all already.
He ran singles and clipped a few fours – as batsmen do – and that was pretty much it. He didn’t even have the decency to levitate.
Journalists, pundits and fans had left us expecting a Ready-Brek glow at the very least, but there was none of that. There were no banana shots, arcing the ball around fielders. He just hit it past them – or quite often to them. He didn’t play too many stupid shots and he didn’t mishit all that many, but it’s hard to get too worked up about what you’re not seeing.
So, in summary: normal cricket, only drawn out for quite an extended period.
England should still endeavour to set India an awkward chase. That step alone is already in the realm of unIikeliness, but if the pitch goes utterly to shit and they then fluke their opponents out for less than a hundred, it would be utterly hilarious. They don’t remotely deserve a win, but there is no role for justice in the formulation of a good joke.