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International Cricket - Cricket: Legend Kohli set for landmark Test

Virat Kohli is preparing to play his 100th Test match and the former India captain is regarded as one of the greatest batters of his generation.

Kohli will become the 12th Indian Test player to reach a century of caps when he lines up against Sri Lanka in Mohali on Friday, joining legends such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev on an illustrious list.

The match against Sri Lanka also marks a new chapter in Kohli's Test career as, having captained the side in 68 of his first 99 appearances, he is back in the ranks under new skipper Rohit Sharma.

By his own high standards, he has had a lean spell with the bat, going 27 Test innings without a century, but he's 3/1 to celebrate his 100th appearance by scoring a hundred and is 11/2 to be named player of the match in Mohali.

Prodigious Kohli relishes clashes with Australia

Born in Delhi, Kohli shot to prominence as captain of India's Under-19 World Cup-winning side in March 2008 and he made his ODI debut for the senior team later the same year.

India's wealth of batting talent meant he had to wait until June 2011 to win his first Test cap, alongside icons such as Dravid, VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni. He contributed just four and 15 in a victory over the West Indies in Kingston but his Test breakthrough came in November 2011 when he scored fifties in both innings against the Windies in Mumbai.

A billion or so Indian cricket fans realised their team had unearthed a potential superstar on the 2011-12 tour of Australia as Kohli top-scored in both innings of the third Test in Perth, making 44 and 75, before reaching his maiden century in the fourth game in Adelaide.

That was the first of his 27 Test centuries - he's also made 43 tons in ODIs, a format in which he is arguably the best batter of all time - and he has relished scraps with the Aussies throughout his career.

Returning to Adelaide in December 2014, Kohli scored 115 and 141, following up with 169 and 54 in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and 147 and 46 in the final game of the series at the SCG. 

But the high point of Virat's Test captaincy came on the 2018/19 tour of Australia, when he led India to their first ever series victory down under, scoring 123 in Perth and 82 at the MCG against a top-class home bowling attack.

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A modern master of all three formats

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Kohli's cricketing career is his ability to master all three formats.

He was already renowned as a brilliant limited-overs runscorer when he came into the Test team but demonstrated another side to his game in December 2012, when he faced 295 balls for his 103 against England on a slow, turning pitch in Nagpur.

That innings showcased the watertight technique, mental focus and physical fitness that have made Kohli such a prolific runscoring machine over the past decade.

He has scored seven double-centuries in Test cricket, the highest of which was an unbeaten 254 against South Africa in Pune in 2019, yet is also the leading runscorer in the history of the Indian Premier League, the world's best Twenty20 competition.

The pressure of starring in, and captaining, India's Test, ODI and T20 teams has affected Virat in recent years but, having stepped down as skipper, the 33-year-old still has a huge amount to offer with the bat.

India's batsman for all seasons

For decades, India were a force to be reckoned with in their home Test series but struggled to win abroad. However, Kohli has changed all that, leading from the front with his ability to score big runs whatever the venue or the conditions.

His overall Test batting average is an exceptional 50.32 and it is noteworthy that he averages 54 in Australia and 51 in South Africa – two places where plenty of visiting batters have struggled over the years.

Kohli has faced seven teams during his Test career - Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies - and has scored at least one century at home and away against six of those opponents.

The one gap on his CV is an away ton against Bangladesh, where he has had only one innings in Test cricket, although he does have a hefty average of 78 against the Tigers in India.

Sri Lanka may well be the ideal opponents for Kohli's landmark Test appearance as he has scored five centuries in 15 innings against them, making nought, 104 not out, 213, 243 and 50 in his only previous home series in 2017.

Alliance with Rahane breaks bowlers' hearts

Kohli's dazzling strokeplay has delighted fans and driven bowlers to distraction during his stunning Test career although he has been dismissed seven times by two opponents: England veteran James Anderson and Australia spinner Nathan Lyon.

Moeen Ali got rid of Kohli six times in 16 matches but Aussie paceman Pat Cummins is the closest thing the India star has to a nemesis, taking his wicket on five occasions in just six appearances.

Six of Kohli's 14 ducks have come against England but opposing bowlers' hearts must have sunk whenever Kohli was joined at the wicket by his experienced India teammate Ajinkya Rahane.

He and Rahane had an average partnership of 57.72, sharing a mammoth stand of 365 against New Zealand in 2016, and there may well be more batting heroics to come from Kohli as he celebrates his 100th Test cap.

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