India vs England: Virat Kohli strikes to extend Joe Root’s wait for another century
Joe Root was easing towards his 14th century only for Virat Kohli, with the sun in his eyes, throwing down at the non-striker’s end to catch his counterpart well short as he tried a risky second run after Jonny Bairstow had played R Ashwin to midwicket.cricket Updated: Aug 01, 2018 23:53 IST
England skipper Joe Root was once again denied a century, this time run out for 80 by a brilliant direct hit by Virat Kohli to pull back the home team’s surge on the final session of Day 1 in the opening test at Edgbaston on Wednesday. (LIVE UPDATES) (LIVE SCORECARD)
Root was easing towards his 14th century only for Kohli, with the sun in his eyes, throwing down at the non-striker’s end to catch his counterpart well short as he tried a risky second run after Jonny Bairstow had played R Ashwin to midwicket.
It helped India rein in England, who were threatening to run away with the innings after Root had elected to bat on a good pitch. Missing out on a century will, however, add to the pressure on the home team skipper.
Joe Root is regarded among the finest batsmen of his generation, rubbing shoulders with Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson for the tag as the world’s best batsman.
Kohli has excelled as an all-format star and Aussie Smith has been brilliant in ODIs and Test cricket to such an extent his absence along with David Warner following the ball-tampering bans has seen the team flounder in the limited-overs tour in England.
The England skipper is easily the most classical among the four, but he has worn the leadership he bequeathed from Alastair Cook, who stepped down after the disastrous India tour in 2016 as some kind of a millstone.
Cook himself acknowledged that England, the No 1 Test team in 2011 and now fifth in the pecking order led by India, were far from consistent, in terms of performances and personnel to aspire to be the top side.
And Root has been forced to carry that weight on his shoulders. England’s No 4 has sacrificed his favourite spot and moved up to No 3 in a desperate search for stability in the squad as pressure mounts due to lack of dominance even at home.
The 27-year-old has had to fend off criticism over backing Yorkshire teammate and leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who has faced heavy criticism from former stalwarts like Michael Vaughan and Geoffrey Boycott besides his country for rejecting a red-ball contract and then grab the spin vacancy in the national squad.
Root was also in the media glare going into the contest against India after Jos Buttler, also elevated to Test ranks for his limited-overs exploits, was named vice-captain for the five-Test, a position temporarily held by James Anderson due to the court case Ben Stokes is fighting.
The Edgbaston pitch would not have asked too many questions of a batsman of Root’s calibre though the India bowlers did off and on. But the batsman had also faced pressure for not converting his half-centuries into triple figures.
After his 136 against West Indies at Edgbaston in August, 2017, Root has been frustrated by not being able to convert any of the 11 fifties he has struck since.
On Wednesday, he was under pressure on multiple reasons though most of it was that faced by a batsman stuck in a team that has been too slow in the rebuilding phase and searching for quality replacements with Cook and ageing swing bowler James Anderson among the toughest to replace.
The century would surely have lifted a ton off Root’s shoulders, having got to 6,000 Test runs during the innings, until Kohli intervened to lead his team’s fightback in the first game of the five-match series.
First Published: Aug 01, 2018 21:55 IST