Anderson vs Kohli: Round One To Anderson?
2014. Lord’s. Second Test. Virat Kohli has smacked four crisp boundaries in a 33-ball 25 and looks good for a big score. James Anderson though has other plans. He has decoded Kohli’s Achilles Heel, poking outside the off stump and he has Kohli caught behind on the 34th ball he faces. This plagues Kohli’s entire tour of England. Anderson vs Kohli? Anderson has overwhelmingly won the battle. Kohli has just scored a 134 runs in ten innings, Anderson has dismissed him four times.
2018. Kohli is four years wiser but Anderson too is four years older. All the pre match talk is about the latest chapter in the Anderson vs Kohli saga. It is setup to be a humdinger. England have scored 287 and India have raced along to 50/0 in 13.3 overs before Sam Curran removes Murali Vijay and KL Rahul in the space of three balls and England come roaring back in. Kohli enters at 54/2, amidst boos from the Edgbaston crowd. Anderson has bowled seven overs on the trot, he’s 36 years of age. Surely he needs a breather. The sight of Kohli entering the field has just given him the extra zip to go on. He badly wants a go at Kohli. It reminds the viewer of the famous Anderson – Tendulkar rivalry, Anderson would find that extra mile whenever Tendulkar was on strike.
The first ball, Kohli leaves it comfortably. The rest of the battle is anything but comfortable. It all starts in the 16th over of the Indian Innings. Kohli chases an outswinger outside the off stump which takes the edge and falls short of gully. Anderson is only getting quicker. After a few half-convincing blocks, the battle really spices up in the post lunch session. A fresher Anderson in great rhythm and a struggling Kohli just feels like 2014 is going to repeat itself in a matter of few minutes. In the 25th over, Anderson again finds Kohli’s edge, this time it drops agonisingly short of Jonny Bairstow and goes for four. Three balls later, Kohli again edges and it falls short of second slip.
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This battle is gripping! Anderson has not allowed Kohli to even get off strike let alone hit boundaries and Kohli almost runs himself out in a bid to get off strike to Anderson. Three balls later, an absolute beauty just evades the bails. Anderson is all over Kohli but Kohli is somehow grinding it out albeit with a huge chunk of luck.
At the other end, Ben Stokes has dismissed Ajinkya Rahane and Dinesh Karthik and India are reeling at 100/5. The last ball of the 31st over, Kohli again edges off Anderson and this time Dawid Malan drops a regulation catch. Post Tea, Anderson reviews unsuccessfully for an LBW decision and beats him in the same over. The rest of the battle, Kohli is able to play Anderson out without any hiccups.
All in all, the battle in numbers was staggering. Out of the 43 balls Anderson bowled to Kohli, 41 were dots and Kohli could only score six runs, all coming off edges which did not carry. It was an exhilarating battle, Anderson bowled 26 deliveries straight at Kohli, such was the control. Safe to say that Anderson won the first exchange in the Anderson vs Kohli saga, 2018 version. Kohli though, battled it out with huge luck and played one of the best knocks ever seen by an Indian Captain in England. If this is how Anderson vs Kohli has started, the rest of the series promises to be a thrilling watch.