On the day when the next best score was 26, Virat Kohli scored 149. You might be tricked into thinking that he had it easy. Believe me, it was not. At least the 1st 100 balls were not. But as the day progressed, his batting evolved in what will be considered the best innings of his Test career so far.
Indian openers started well and it looked like India will impose a big total on England. But then Vijay lost his concentration, KL played a loose shot and Dhawan brought out his inner self. Suddenly in the space of 18 balls, India were 3 down. English seamers were looking good on a wicket where Indian seamers worked very hard to extract very less a day before.
Battle of Kohli versus Anderson has already started but India made to lunch without any more harm. Although things changed after the introduction of Stokes. Of all the people, Rahane was having jitters. He was not able to pick the correct line from Stokes whose angle threw him off. Then in Stokes 4th over Rahane dabbed to a slightly wide delivery(which should have been left alone) with loose hands and got a boundary at third man region. He tried to leave the next ball but got late and perished. Karthik lasted only 4 deliveries and Pandya survived after a review.
Things that happened when India were at 100: Rahane Out, Karthik Out, Kohli Dropped, Pandya Dropped
While Curran was having a great day( he was the start of the day for England) and Stokes troubling everyone, the Kohli-Anderson duel was in full flow at the other end. The 36 years old bowled 15 overs out of first 31 overs. And of those 90 balls, he bowled 43 to Kohli, 41 dots and only 6 runs given.
And all this while Anderson continuously hit “the corridor of uncertainty” time and again, giving Kohli no freebies, no release shot. So much so that once Kohli even ran for a non-existent run just to get off strike against Anderson, only to be sent back by an early call from Karthik. It was a test match battle at its best. Malan dropped Kohli on the last ball of Anderson’s spell and he somehow survived. Anderson was on his knees when the catch was dropped but he could not be continued.
But the task was not over for Kohli. Pandya lasted 52 balls but never looked like he belongs there. Ashwin was looking good but Anderson came back for another spell after tea. He took out Ashwin in a similar manner that he took out Cook. A delivery angling into batsmen but straightened after pitching.
India were 7 down with 118 runs behind. A deficit that was too much on a deteriorating wicket. India’s tail was exposed, they needed runs and only Kohli could have provided them.
With his back against the wall, Virat went back to doing what he knows best. He went to play the game like an ODI. Many times, while chasing in ODIs, Virat has shown his impeccable capabilities of finding the gaps with incredible strokes, taking singles and doubles as he runs like a leopard and always keeping up with the required rate. Here also, he did the things similarly.
He has started to play his strokes freely (but still very responsibly). He ran at his best as he tried to keep the strike with himself. And the target was all along in his sight- to cut down the deficit to a minimum.
|8||13||Kohli- 18, Shami- 2|
|9||35||Kohli- 30, Sharma- 5|
|10||57||Kohli- 52, Yadav- 1|
As Virat opened up to display his strokes, suddenly England were on backfoot, ball was not doing much again. England went for the traditional strategy in this case. They tried to leave Kohli alone and to clean up the tail from the other side. They spread the field for Kohli to cut-off the boundaries but it mattered little to him. England failed to keep him off the strike as much as they tried. Fielders were hurried into mistakes, no one more so than the captain himself.
Bowlers were getting frustrated for not getting a go against the tail. Kohli was also playing Anderson much better. Of the 153 balls bowled after the fall of 7th wicket, Virat played 116 while others played only 37 (ratio comes out to be more than 3:1).
Between all this, Kohli scored his 1st century in England in Test Matches. Also, he bettered the number of runs scored in the last tour, 134, in the 1st inning itself this time. When he got out, the deficit was down to 13.
For Virat Kohli, the day started with “the Boos” from the Edgbaston crowd but it ended with “the standing ovation” from the same crowd and from the cricket fraternity around the world. And after the Test Rankings will be updated upon completion of this test, he will become the no. 1 batsmen in all 3 formats.