Virat Kohli's first century batting first, his fourth overall and second in a row, set up a fairly comfortable win for India, who are yet to lose an international in the current home season.
The pitch had little of the early-morning demons it is famous for, and all the Indian batsmen got starts. Kohli wasn't as flashy as the others, but only he converted the start. Not flashy didn't equate to not quick in his case. Just that he hit only 10 boundaries in his 104, as opposed to Yuvraj Singh's seven in 42, Gautam Gambhir's six in 38, and Murali Vijay's five in 29. And Kohli ran hard. And he placed the ball well, creating opportunities to run hard.
It took Vijay and Gambhir a couple of overs of caution to realise this was an easier pitch than the one that had them at 27 for 5 in the last ODI here. Vijay started off by cover-driving what was called a no-ball for four, and then pulling the resultant free-hit for another. Gambhir matched him in aggression, charging at the bowlers, creating his own driving length, and getting two fours off Daryl Tuffey in the sixth over.
Inexplicably, though, Vijay switched from classical shots to a slog that ended his knock in the eighth over, with the score at 44. Eight overs later Gambhir flirted with what would have been called a wide, and perished with India 92 for 2.
Yuvraj took time getting started. India's run-rate dipped below six as he scored seven off the first 28 balls he faced. Then he started timing well, hitting boundaries at will. By the time he fell to Tuffey's remarkable knack of picking up wickets in the first overs of new spells, India were 179 in the 35th over. Unnoticed, Kohli had reached 63 off 73.
Unlike the others, Kohli didn't need periods of dramatic acceleration, nor did he need time to settle in. The only hiccup was the big shout for an inside edge from Kyle Mills. There was a sound, but no deviation. If we were not sure after watching replays, it is fair to assume the umpire couldn't have been either.
Soon Kohli started finding gaps, using his wrists to play into the on side. The pull to cow corner off deliveries not really short remained his favourite shot, getting four of his boundaries. Upon Yuvraj's dismissal, he did take charge, but didn't seem to make any drastic change, getting 42 off the last 31 balls he faced.
Kohli hit two boundaries in the 90s. The Powerplay had been taken, and it had to be made use of. The celebration upon reaching the century was representative of the growth of Kohli the batsman. There was no anger in his reaction on making the landmark, unlike in the past. He just had the smile on, enjoying the moment, more sure of his place. That the century would come seemed just as sure.