India skipper Virat Kohli seems to have found his mojo back as he struck a fluent half-century on Day 1 of the fourth Test against England at the Oval.
Kohli had amassed only 162 runs from the first three Tests and his pattern of dismissals was almost the same in each innings i.e. chasing the deliveries from outside the off-stump and getting caught in slip region or behind the wicket.
However, the Indian captain looked more assured in the first innings of the fourth Test, scoring 50 runs off 96 deliveries with 8 fours.
After this knock, Kohli received praise from ex-England captain Nasser Hussain for making adjustments to his game.
“It’s the sign of a champion cricketer that they’re always looking at their game, and trying to improve – even in a series where the matches come and go at such a rate. So when Virat Kohli came out to bat on Thursday, it was noticeable how much thought he’d put into the difficulties he’s been facing in that channel outside off stump. There was clearly a trigger movement to get on off stump and cover it, and then try to leave everything outside his eyeline,” Hussain wrote in his column for The Daily Mail.
“Batting in England against the Dukes ball is tough, as India are discovering, but Kohli had gone away, addressed an area of concern, and tried to overcome it. The upshot was that, for a while, England were unsure whether to carry on bowling in the channel, which became wider than usual because of Kohli’s trigger movement, or go for the magic ball and try to trap him lbw, because he was covering his stumps,” he added.
The former England skipper also pointed out that English bowlers were a bit too full to Kohli, especially at the start of his innings.
“Early on, they went for magic twice, and Kohli just hit it back past mid-on. It was a real touch of class, and showed how the best players force opponents to rethink their plans.”
“If anything, England were a bit too full to Kohli, especially at the start of his innings, when there were too many floaty drive balls. It was as if they were still bowling a Headingley length, whereas at The Oval, you want to be about 30cm shorter than that if you want to hit the top of off stump,” he said.
Soon after reaching his half-century, Kohli got out while trying to turn one to leg but only managed to edge Ollie Robinson behind the stumps.
Nasser Hussain urged the fans and experts to not be too critical of Virat considering the amount of cricket he is playing and also leading the side.
“Kohli will have been disappointed with the shot that proved his undoing. Ollie Robinson bowls a nice inswinger, and Kohli presumably thought he could work it round the corner. But he was surprised by the bounce, and ended up closing the face of the bat.”
“We shouldn’t be too hard on Kohli. The amount of cricket that both these sides play – more than any other teams in the world – can be exhausting, and Kohli bears the extra burden of captaining India, with all the demands that come with the job,” Hussain concluded.
Apart from Kohli, all-rounder Shardul Thakur smashed 57 off 36 balls as India posted a respectable 191 on the board in their first innings.
With the ball, the visitors reduced England to 53/3 at stumps on Day 1. While Jasprit Bumrah dismissed the English openers Rory Burns (5) and Haseeb Hameed (0) cheaply, Umesh Yadav got rid of skipper Joe Root on 21.