Monday 22 July 2019

Kohli masterclass gives India lifeline on thrilling day


India's Virat Kohli salutes the fans as he walks off the pitch after losing his wicket. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
India's Virat Kohli salutes the fans as he walks off the pitch after losing his wicket. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers Sportsdesk

Virat Kohli's masterclass century dragged India back into the contest on a gripping second day of the first Test against England at Edgbaston.

Sam Curran (four for 74) made a sterling home bid for the headlines, with three wickets in eight balls during a titanic first hour of the afternoon.

But Kohli (149) was an unstoppable force - after two dropped chances - as he banished memories of his miserable maiden Test tour to this country four years ago as he compiled his 22nd Test century in an India total of 274 which contained no other innings above 26.

Kohli's one-man show meant a home lead of only 13 after the tourists' last two wickets added 92 - and when Alastair Cook was bowled for the second day in succession by a Ravi Ashwin off-break, for a duck this time, England reached stumps nine for one second time round.

The India captain attracted an outbreak of partisan boos when he walked out at 54 for two, thanks to his controversial 'send-off' after running out his opposite number Joe Root the previous day.

But 172 balls later, he had the last laugh - amid another energetic celebration - after cutting Stokes for his 14th four to reach three-figures as he dominated a last-wicket stand of 57 in which Umesh Yadav made just an unbeaten single.

India's reply to 287 all out was eventful from the outset, but they nonetheless reached 50 without loss.

Curran then quickly proved a dab hand in helpful conditions. Murali Vijay was pinned lbw, KL Rahul dragged his second ball on to his stumps, and then Dhawan edged to second slip.

After lunch Stokes soon proved he could swing the ball just as effectively as Curran, only faster.

James Anderson's long-awaited duel with Kohli culminated in an edge to second slip on 21, only for Dawid Malan to put down a catch.

One ball later, Pandya - still on nought - this time edged to Cook at first slip, and another chance went begging.

Ajinkya Rahane had tried to leave one that bounced on him from Stokes, and managed only to edge to Keaton Jennings at third slip.

Then Dinesh Karthik lost his middle stump to an inswinger which brought Stokes his 100th Test wicket.

It was testament to Kohli's great determination, skill and some good fortune that he survived.

He did so again, immediately after reaching his half-century with his ninth four, when he was again dropped by Malan in the slips.

After tea, Anderson finally had deserved reward with a dead-eyed delivery which took the off bail as Ashwin played inside the line - and when a driving Mohammed Shami edged him to Malan, India were eight down and still 105 runs behind.

But Kohli was far from done as he went on to better his 2014 tour aggregate in just one attempt before finally cutting Adil Rashid into the hands of point to leave England's openers 3.4 overs of aggravation - time for Cook to find trouble again.

Irish Independent

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