He smashes his pad with his bat or throws it down every time he sees a wicket fall. He is applauding every time his batting partner hits a four. He is sledging Dean Elgar. He is berating his own bowler for bowling a full toss, which means he can't sledge Elgar. He is jumping around for his century, and then aborting the celebration to take the overthrow. He is fighting the umpires, he is fighting the match referee. He is livid with his wicketkeeper for not going for a catch. He is not even looking at him; he might want to cause bodily harm if he does. He is jumping up and down every time an offbreak doesn't turn, every time the ball hits even centimetres to the right of the middle of the bat.
This day is all about Virat Kohli. The camera cannot afford to look away. Forget Kohli Cam in India, we need one here in Centurion. Not many are comfortable performing with all the attention on them. Kohli craves it. This is the day he knows he is carrying the team. This is Kohli against South Africa even though South Africa feel they are playing in India and not at home because of the slow pitch. Surely he remembers Adelaide when he carried them almost all alone? He is desperate to avoid a repeat.
There is some support from R Ashwin; but a man who is fast acquiring reputation for his good temperament then does something silly. Hardik Pandya is run out with his foot and bat inside the crease but in the air. Kohli might burst a vein. He is livid when Ashwin plays the kind of shot he was himself applauding not long ago. It doesn't make sense. Are other batsmen - lower-order ones, mind you - not allowed to get out?
Not much is about sense in Kohli's effort. He batted for only 40% of the balls India face, 43% since he came to the wicket. Yet he has scored half of India's runs, 55% of those that come when he is at the wicket. They have looked to drag him wide because there is no movement available but Kohli has found a way to reach them and take full toll every time they bowl straight. He has played the same shots that got him in trouble in Cape Town, but he has pulled them off. Slow pitch or not, 153 out of 307 when the opposition has successfully denied you strike is a big effort. And he has done this at a strike rate of over 70.
Kohli has made mistakes on this tour - with selections, with fielding - but this innings and this day is a play in isolation. He has the conditions but also he has the will and the grit to not throw it away. This is India's best chance to win a Test, he knows that. The memo doesn't seem to have been sent to the rest of the batting unit. So Kohli has taken it upon himself. It's a rare zone he has batted in. Almost as if he is making up for every selection error, for that dropped catch. It is almost as if Kohli wants to score the runs Ajinkya Rahane might have scored, make up for the easy runs Mohammed Shami has conceded, compensate for the runs that have been given away thanks to poor fielding in the slips. He knows it can't be accomplished, we know it can't be accomplished, but when Kohli is on the field, he is making South Africa fight for every inch of the advantage.
Kohli might have yet to pass the conditions test, but he can play situations all right. He might not be the most astute tactician as a captain, but he is showing he can lead from the front. If India manage to win this Test, Kohli's celebrations will be something to behold. If India don't, he will be devastated, and he will not bother hiding it.