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India vs England: Fiery Kohli-Anderson duel spice of Test series

Anderson dismissed Kohli five times in his bleak 2014 tour when he scored 134 runs at an average of 13.4, but the world No 1 Test batsman has come good with a vengeance this time, scoring centuries and three half-centuries, aggregating 593 runs at an average of 65.88.

cricket Updated: Sep 09, 2018 08:50 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, London
virat kohli,james anderson,india
Cricket - England v India - Fifth Test - Kia Oval, London, Britain - September 8, 2018 India's Virat Kohli talks to England's James Anderson Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs(REUTERS)

The highlight of every major cricket series is the clash between the finest players on either side. Although Virat Kohli has piled on the runs and England spearhead James Anderson is yet to claim his wicket, their duel has been the most engrossing in the ongoing Test series.

Anderson dismissed Kohli five times in his bleak 2014 tour when he scored 134 runs at an average of 13.4, but the world No 1 Test batsman has come good with a vengeance this time, scoring centuries and three half-centuries, aggregating 593 runs at an average of 65.88.

The battle was on in earnest in the first Test at Edgbaston, where Anderson kept steaming in over after over bowling just outside off-stump much like the metronomic Australian great Glenn McGrath, whose record he is chasing. However, Kohli was dropped on 21 and 51 as he cashed in with 149.

Although India are 1-3 down in the series and in trouble at The Oval, Kohli went on to score 51 in the second innings at Birmingham before playing match-winning knocks of 97 and 103 at Trent Bridge and 58 in the second innings at Southampton, keeping India’s victory dreams alive until his dismissal.

On Saturday at The Oval, the contest was again on. Anderson finally thought he had his man with a close leg before appeal. He had almost got even Kohli, setting him up with two away swingers before bringing one back in to hit his pads. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena turned it down.

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England sought a review, but it showed the impact was marginally on line, which is the umpire’s call. Anderson was fuming, and at the end of the over seemed to ask Dharmasena how he could not give it out. The umpire cautioned Anderson and spoke to skipper Joe Root, with Kohli also getting involved by exchanging a few words with the bowler.

In the end, Kohli fell to Ben Stokes, nicking to Root at second slip.

England vice-captain, Jos Buttler, whose 89 lifted the team to a strong position, said the contest has been great for the fans. He felt Anderson, 36, who needs three wickets to surpass McGrath’s 563 scalps – all-time record for a Test pacer – has been unlucky.

“It is a massive wicket,” he told reporters on Saturday. “He’s one of the best players in the world, and he’s had an outstanding series. Any time you create a chance, or umpire’s call early on, it can go either way there, they are huge moments for us against a guy of that quality.

The Anderson-Kohli contest has had the fans on the edge of their seats.

“It’s fantastic Test cricket. Virat’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best at the minute, and Jimmy’s England’s greatest-ever bowler. As a match-up for fans and players alike, it’s awesome to watch. The two of them are immensely competitive and have a great duel all through the series.

“I think Jimmy has been particularly unlucky. He’s created some great chances, and been very close. It’s been great to watch.”

So, how come Anderson has not managed to get Kohli this time?

“If we could catch, he’d have a few.”

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 08:48 IST