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Kohli vs Anderson: The new battle

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Virat_Kohli_James_Anderson_battle_Test_Cricket"I'm not sure he's changed. I just think any technical deficiencies he's got aren't in play out here. The wickets just take that out of the equation."

James Anderson's dig before the start of the series now seems funny after Virat Kohli, that brash, aggressive, beloved heart of India, smashed the England bowling to smithereens; he racked up 200 of the 436 runs India scored in the Test, a whopping 45.87%.

India were falling down the side of a hill and Kohli was the rock around which a rope was tied to save them. But he wasn't just a rock. He was a mountain, an immovable, impermeable wall. As his support withered away, Kohli stood unfazed, undaunted. Till he was trapped in front on by Stokes on 51 in the second innings, Kohli barely looked crestfallen.

He had England right where he wanted them. And this with little to no support from the other batsmen. But the battle within the battle was the clash of the big egos. James Anderson vs Virat Kohli. This battle has been hyped up ever since Kohli gathered a paltry 134 runs from the entire 2014 series in England.

Kohli knew Anderson would be licking his lips the moment he set foot in the country. The battle undoubtedly played in his mind. It wasn't the mini-battle anymore. It was the clash that could potentially decide the series.

The first clash lived up to its hype. 43 balls, 41 dots, 6 runs scored. It seemed Anderson was all over the India skipper. He bowled 15 overs, with one over from Adil Rashid in the middle. Anderson wanted this. He would have bowled forever if Root had asked him. He wanted to play on Kohli’s mind and strike his ego.

Not one ball was bowled at the stumps. The Lancashire seamer kept targeting Kohli’s weakness. There was no change-up ball. He could have bowled at Kohli’s legs, looking to trap him in front of the stumps as Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada had done in South Africa. But no. Anderson wanted to hit Kohli’s confidence. He wanted to hurt the Indian skipper so bad that he wouldn't rise again in this series.

It never happened. That Kohli survived those 43 balls was perhaps the biggest repercussion for Anderson. Only six runs had been scored, but Kohli had survived Anderson. You could see the English seamer’s pride being affected. Kohli went on to pile up a confidence-boosting 149, an innings that would force his detractors to admit his greatness or stay quiet.

Perhaps Anderson was hurt the most. Before this innings, the Indian skipper had an average of 4.75 against James Anderson. He had been dismissed five times by the English seamer, each time caught behind the wicket. This time there was no stopping Kohli. He had conquered his demons and stamped his presence in England, the final frontier for him before the series began.

If there is one thing that critics use against Kohli, it is that 2014 series. He had buried the ghosts of that series with a stupendous performance, taking a single innings to go past his entire tally of runs in 2014. Rightfully, Kohli had the no.1 ranking in Tests after his exploits at Edgbaston.

For Anderson to admit that Kohli had survived him was difficult. But he did. "If he bats like he did in the first innings then yeah [when asked if Kohli was standing between England and victory]" said Anderson. "Even batting with the tail, it was so hard to keep the tailenders on strike to have six balls at them. He just managed to find a gap or just managed to get down the other end. I thought the way he batted with the tail was brilliant.”

Kohli was the only factor stopping England from cruising to a comfortable win. He withstood them, beat them down and put India in the driving seat. When he faltered, he was careful not to let it happen against Anderson. It was a clash of egos. This time, the Indian skipper wasn't going to let Anderson have the pleasure of dismissing him.

In the second innings, Kohli made yet another half-century. Anderson watched helplessly. He was accurate, superb with his consistency and tested Kohli outside his off-stump relentlessly. But he couldn't buy a wicket despite finding the edge several times.

Four years after an epic battle, the Kohli vs Anderson clash is once again the focal point of this series. Round one was aced by Kohli but he won’t be able to rest until he has conquered Anderson and England as a whole. This lip-smacking contest is sure to entertain us for two whole months.

“We will go to bed dreaming of getting Virat out,” Anderson had said before day four (the final day) of the Edgbaston Test. Going by Kohli’s form, this could very well continue the entire series.

 

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