Cricket comes in three flavours, catering to three distinct personalities. Twenty20 is for the impatient who seek instant gratification. One Day Internationals (ODI) is for normal people who prefer moderation over either extremes.
Test cricket is for connoisseurs who prefer to read novels over weekends. It is for the philosophical and meditative type. While the viewer has the liberty to choose, the challenge for a cricket player is to adapt and play all these formats.
Indian cricket team’s captain Virat Kohli is perhaps one of those cricketers who has managed to put up a decent show in all three formats in the ongoing India tour of England.
I must confess that I have been aloof from developments in cricket ever since T20 took centre stage. The ongoing test match between England and India in Birmingham has woken up the cricket fan in me from deep slumber. The second day in particular has been a treat to watch for fans of both sides.
The first half of the day was captured by spirited bowling by young Curran who picked three top order batsmen. Pacers brought down the Indian team to a situation (182-8 after Mohammed Shami’s dismissal) where the probability of scoring 200 seemed to be quite low.
The Indian captain saved the ship from sinking on the second day of the first test at Edgbaston. This is not an exaggeration as he scored 149 runs which was more than 50 per cent of total Indian score of 274.
Kohli held his fort in spite of hiccups in the beginning of his innings. He was neither over cautious nor too aggressive in his well poised innings. Quick singles, cautious leaves and flamboyant cover drives were part of the Indian captain’s innings.
Virat Kohli even managed to survive James Anderson’s sharp bowling. The battle between the two was one of minds. Out of 74 deliveries bowled by Anderson, Kohli managed to score just 18 runs. Luck was on his side, no doubt. Two drop catches on 21 and 51 did help him survive. Several nicks that went to the slip failed to carry.
The best part of his innings came when he played with tail-enders. He had the responsibility of scoring runs, protecting his partner and surviving on the field simultaneously. The finesse with which he executed this plan of action with the Indian tail, led to a certain extent of frustration among the English bowlers. One must not forget the presence of mind of Ishant Sharma, who asked for a review of two LBW decisions, which were overturned by the third umpire. This had a pivotal role in keeping the partnership between Sharma and Kohli alive.
The most significant partnership of the Indian innings was the one between Umesh Yadav and Virat Kohli. Yadav came in when Kohli was on 97. The top priority was Yadav’s survival at the crease till Kohli got the remaining three runs for his century. The element of excitement generated during Kohli’s nineties was comparable to that of a ODI or T20. The 57 run partnership wherein Umesh Yadav scored a mere one run was testament to the perfection with which Kohli had managed the strike.
Yadav played his role by managing to survive for 16 deliveries including an entire over facing Stokes. He was applauded by the crowd for merely surviving each delivery. Finally, Rashid got the prized wicket of Kohli, who was caught while trying to ease his arms on the off side.
India managed to pickup a wicket ( Alastair Cook ) at the end of the day. Indian spin has been far more successful that England’s in this test.
The test looks brilliantly poised as we enter the third day. If India manages to bowl out England, they will get the opportunity to chase the target with two days remaining. Significant improvement in the fielding department, especially slips could make sure that India gets what it wants.