In what is becoming a trend, Virat Kohli played a vital second innings to give India the momentum to win the second Test. (Vizag Test: Day 3 Scorecard)
After playing a match-saving knock in Rajkot, which denied England a chance to go up in the series, Virat Kohli produced a well-paced fifty that saw India’s lead soar to 298 and kept the door tightly shut on the visitors. Kohli had to play out time in Rajkot, but this was an opportunity for the India captain to get into the T20 mode. (Vizag Test: Day 3 Highlights)
Still, the circumstances in which he came out to bat weren’t exactly friendly. Pricked by their first innings collapse, England turned on the heat with Stuart Broad dismissing both openers despite an uncomfortable right foot. Offence can often be the best defence in such situations.
With Cheteshwar Pujara guaranteeing some stability at the other end, Kohli had every reason to cut loose. Not getting overwhelmed by England’s sudden momentum, Kohli creamed Broad through covers to get his first boundary in the same over India lost KL Rahul.
He further loosened England’s grip by taking three boundaries off Ben Stokes in two overs after almost lunging into a wide and full Adil Rashid delivery for a delightful square drive. But like in the advertisements where Kohli drives high-end cars, he knows when to change gears.
Pujara’s dismissal --- a top-notch James Anderson delivery that breached his defence to crash into his stumps --- was the signal for Kohli to strap down. While the dismissal prompted him to cut down on risking too many shots, Ajinkya Rahane’s arrival allowed Kohli to keep England on their heels by shifting focus on running between the wickets.
Between 25 and 51, Kohli didn’t score a boundary but India motored on towards a healthy lead with Rahane giving able company. With Rashid proving more effective in his second spell, Kohli carefully tucked him around and even played out a maiden.
But he compensated that against the other bowlers by piercing the field and placing the ball where he could take easy twos. He got five of them. His mastery through the off-side makes Kohli a special batsman. But it’s incomplete without the effort he puts behind running between the wickets.
This isn’t only in Tests. Only 896 out of the 1657 runs Kohli has scored in T20Is have come in fours and sixes. Given India’s urgency to make England bat again, this innings too should be something akin to a shorter format match for India.
As long as Kohli is in the middle, India will be assured their target is achieved. Slowly turning to be a man for all seasons, Kohli’s innings here could spell out the difference between the two teams in this Test.