Virat Kohli will be playing his 100th Test match for India against Sri Lanka in Mohali, starting from March 4. Punit Bisht, Kohli’s former Delhi teammate, has recalled a phenomenal 152-run partnership between them against Karnataka on a winter morning in 2006 in a Ranji Trophy fixture.
Former India captain Virat Kohli will become the 12th player from the country to play 100 or more Test matches when they take on Sri Lanka in Mohali on March 4, in the first of the two-match Test series. Ahead of this historic Test, Punit Bisht, Kohli’s former Delhi teammate, a valiant partnership they built 16 years ago during their Ranji Trophy contest against Karnataka.
Delhi got off to a poor start against Karnataka, and Kohli and Bisht were in the middle at stumps on Day 2 in the aim to revive the innings. It was arguably Kohli’s toughest day till date in his cricket career. He had lost his father Prem, who suffered a brain stroke just a couple hours back in the middle of the night.
During an interview with PTI, Bisht explained the courage and character Kohli had shown after his father’s unfortunate death.
“To this day I wonder, how in the world did he muster the courage to drop in at the ground. We were all numb at his tragedy and here the boy was standing in the dressing room and ready to go out and bat. Mind it, his father's last rites hadn't been performed and he had just come because he didn't want his team to lose a batter as we were not in a great position,” Bisht told PTI.
Further, Bisht recalled how Mithun Manhas, then Delhi captain, and coach Chetan Chauhan had told Virat to return home.
"Chetan sir, if memory doesn't serve me wrong, was our coach that season. Both Chetan sir and Mithun bhai told Virat to go home as they were not sure whether it would be a prudent idea to let the kid go out there in a tense situation and how he would mentally cope up.
"Trust me, no one in the team even had a second thought that he should go back and be with his family and take his own time to grieve. But this is Virat Kohli we are talking about. He was made of different stuff," Bisht added.
Kohli ended up scoring 238-ball 90, while Bisht made 156 off 283 balls as the duo forged a 152-run stand to help Delhi avoid a defeat.
Bisht tried to explain how Kohli had played during their partnership.
“Virat was in a zone during those hours. I think for those few hours, he had stopped reacting to grief and showed grit like never before. He played some lovely flicks and his signature cover drive. We had very little conversation. He would just come and say, 'lamba khelna hai, out nahi hona hai'."
"I didn't even know what to say. Often in my heart, a feeling would crop up that let me just put my hand on his head, say a few words of comfort. My head said that no, we have a job to do and let's focus on that. I think he got a debatable decision and missed out on a hundred," Bisht concluded.