It was mid-day in Australia when Anushka Sharma came down from the stands and onto the hallowed turf of Sydney Cricket Ground to give Virat Kohli a warm embrace. By then, rain had washed out day 5 and India had created history by becoming the first Asian team to defeat Australia in a Test series Down Under.
The writing was on the wall from the second day of the fourth and final Test match in Sydney. Back in 2004, cricket's premier crisis-man Steve Waugh had saved Australia – at the same venue – from their first series defeat against Sourav Ganguly's men. But this team hardly showed the skills and more importantly, the temperament that defined Australian sides of the yore.
But Sydney has not always been associated with happy memories for India and especially Kohli. Cast your mind back to the summer of 2014-15 and this story suddenly becomes even more personal and emotional for the Indian captain.
Kohli was in the form of his life in the Test series and had almost pulled off an improbable chase in the fourth innings of the first Test match at Adelaide. Although India had lost that series, he had four centuries in as many Tests and scored 692 runs, bettered only by Steve Smith. He also took over full-time Test captaincy following MS Dhoni's sudden retirement following the series' Boxing Day match.
The 2015 World Cup was the next assignment and India, the defending champion, was in bad form coming into the tournament. In a bid to settle his ship, Dhoni made the ultimate sacrifice ahead of the World Cup - instead of flying back home to see his newborn baby girl, he went on a camp with his team. The move worked like a charm; Kohli continued his run feast with a century against Pakistan and India won the game starting their title defence convincingly. The Men in Blue then threw South Africa by the wayside, looking unstoppable through the group stages and the quarter-final.
Australia, and a chance for redemption, in the semi-final awaited India. Batting first, the World Cup hosts posted a huge total of 328. India – fuelled by 'chase master' Kohli and 'finishing expert' Dhoni – had chased down bigger, against better. But, for once, Kohli failed as he skied a hook shot off Mitchell Johnson and unfortunately, March 26, 2015, did not see an encore.
It was a sad day for India and an extremely dark day for Indian cricket. The sport, which has a religious following in the country, took a demonic turn in its unnecessary quest to find a scapegoat. It was disturbing and disgusting that the blame fell on the then girl – now wife – of India's finest modern-day run-scorer. The fans unfairly launched a nasty attack on Anushka Sharma. Things were so bad that the couple had to hide their relationship from the public eye.
Kohli waited an entire year to speak about the incident and it was not after he let his bat do the talking. Against Australia at Mohali in the 2016 World T20, the right-hander pulled off a heist in a run chase and rightly lashed out at everyone that took cricket beyond the circumference of the boundary ropes.
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Shame on those people who have been having a go at anushka for the longest time and connecting every negative thing to her. Shame on those people calling themselves educated. Shame on blaming and making fun of her when she has no control over what i do with my sport. If anything she has only motivated and given me more positivity. This was long time coming. Shame on these people that hide and take a dig. And i dont need any respect for this post. Have some compassion and respect her. Think of how your sister or girlfriend or wife would feel if someone trolled them and very conveniently rubbished them in public. #nocompassion#nocommonsense
The couple has since then put this rocky phase behind them and are now married for more than a year. Kohli attributes a lot of positive changes in his life to his wife and Anushka, on her part, is proud to be married to the "best man" on Earth.
Almost four years on from the incident, Kohli arrived on the Aussie shores, self admittedly wiser and with the sole mission of winning. Personally, he has reached a stage in his career where he knows he will go down as one of the greatest and individual achievements do not bother him anymore.
Kohli's aim is to go down in history as the leader of a great team and perhaps the unfair embarrassment of 2015 may not have even crossed his mind. But redemption is never really complete until it is achieved at the very place where ill-fate befell.
Thus, as Kohli became the first India captain to win in a Test series in Australia and kissed the Border-Gavaskar trophy in Sydney with wife Anushka watching, for the cricket romantics, it was redemption, complete.
The journey for Kohli to Promised Land was everything his heart had so desired – one where everyone played a part and India won. It indeed was, for once, India versus the opposition and it climaxed with Team India handing captain Kohli the perfect girt on a rainy day in Sydney.