Virat Kohli has redefined consistency with his exploits with the bat in 2018. He was rested for few games during the year, but he still emerged the highest run-getter in 2018 with 2735 runs across all formats. He is fourth in the list of most runs scored across all formats in a calendar year with Ricky Ponting topping the list with 2833 runs in 2005. Kohli is also second in the list with 2818 runs in 2017. Kumar Sangakkara is next with 2813 runs in 2014.
Besides, Virat Kohli broke the Indian record of most runs in away Tests in a calendar year. Although he ended the year with a duck, he scored 1138 runs in away Tests in 2018, just one run ahead of Rahul Dravid’s tally of 1137 runs in 2002 in away Tests.
Hence, once again, it can be easily called the year of Virat Kohli after his brilliance in the previous year.
In 2018, Kohli scored few brilliant fifties and tons and took India home on numerous occasions. Cricwizz lists the top 5 innings of Virat Kohli during the calendar year.
Virat Kohli’s 153 against South Africa in Centurion Test
India had lost the first Test at Cape Town with Kohli contributing 33 runs in the match. He was under-fire as captain during the series for his playing XI selection. And India needed a Kohli special in the second Test to bring the series alive.
Kohli responded with a gem of a knock in the second Test at Centurion. He slammed 153 off 217 balls with 15 fours and was the last batsman out, helping India to score 307 in reply to South Africa’s first-innings total of 335. Kohli added 143 runs for the last five wickets and batted with the tailenders to narrow the lead conceded to just 28.
The next best score was 46 from Murali Vijay to show Virat Kohli was batting on a different level altogether. He did not play a false stroke until he has to go for the big hits while batting with the last man Jasprit Bumrah. However, India batting failed collectively in the fourth innings to lose the match by 135 runs and the series.
149 against England in Birmingham Test
When Kohli last toured England in 2014, he managed just 134 runs in 10 innings. But Kohli of 2018 was a different batsman from Kohli of 2014. He was up against his nemesis James Anderson in the first Test at Birmingham. However, Kohli was up for the challenge, thanks to some luck from buttered-fingered England players dropping plenty of chances.
Kohli capitalised on England’s generosity and slammed 149 off 225 balls with 22 fours and 1 six as India replied with 274 against England’s first-innings total of 287.
The next best score for India during the innings was Hardik Pandya’s 22 as Indian batsmen perished in the tough conditions and good bowling attack of England, but not Kohli. He was again the last batsman out and narrowed the lead conceded to just 13 runs. Kohli replied with 51 in second innings, but could not take India across the finish line, falling short of just 31 runs.
Kohli scored 200 in the Test, 66 runs more than what he scored in the full Test tour of England in 2014.
97 and 103 against England in Nottingham Test
India were trailing 0-2 going into the third Test at Nottingham. Luckily, England skipper Joe Root asked India to bat first after they have routed India by an innings in the second Test at Lord’s. It worked in India’s favour as Kohli (97) in partnership with Ajinkya Rahane (81) helped India score 329.
After Hardik Pandya’s 5/28 had bowled England for just 161, Kohli got down to business again, scoring 103 to help India put up a target of 521 runs. Kohli’s 103 deserved special mention as he shunned all risks to help India put up a match-winning target. India won the match by 203 runs, just the first instance in NESA countries (New Zealand, England, South Africa, Australia) that a Kohli’s ton has come in a winning cause.
160* against South Africa in Cape Town ODI
India dominated the ODI series against South Africa, winning it by 5-1 margin. The top 3 of Indian batting line-up dominated the run-scoring charts with Kohli leading the way. In the decisive third ODI, Kohli played a lone hand after putting up a partnership of 139 runs for the second wicket with Shikhar Dhawan.
After the southpaw’s wicket, Kohli dominated the strike as other batsmen struggling to score in a double-paced wicket. Kohli remained unbeaten on 160* off 159 balls with 12 fours and 2 sixes as India posted a match-winning total of 303/6. India won the match by 124 runs.
61 not out against Australia in Sydney T20I
India were playing to save a 9 straight unbeaten run in bilateral T20I series. India were trailing 1-0 going into the last T20I at Sydney. Indian bowlers did a good job to restrict Australia to 164/6, but it was up to the batsmen to save the unbeaten run and level the series. India were in a spot of bother at 108/4 in 14th over, but Kohli found an able partner in Dinesh Karthik to take the team across the finish line.
What was brilliant about Kohli’s knock was the way he paced his innings. Whenever the run-rate went up, he found a boundary or a six to bring it down. He never let the bowlers dictate terms and targetted the weak links of Australian bowling line-up.
He never lost his patience in the last over when few dot balls had put the pressure back on India. But Kohli managed a boundary to seal the win. Kohli remained unbeaten on 61 off 41 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes. India levelled the series 1-1 and stretched their unbeaten run in T20I series to 9.