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Monday, September 27, 2021

Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara fall to James Anderson as England hit back

Anderson bowled six overs in the morning, slipped out a couple of beauties, but Rohit and KL Rahul more or less blunted him, playing close to the body and playing late. Also, Anderson was about a foot short in terms of hitting the optimum English length. It changed post-lunch.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: August 6, 2021 2:41:50 pm
Virat Kohli, james Anderson and Cheteshwar PujaraJames Anderson did what James Anderson does - make life difficult for the best of batsmen. (Reuters)

Day 2 of the first Test sprang to life on either side of the lunch break. Rohit Sharma’s dismissal at the stroke of lunch left the door ajar for England. After the break, James Anderson did what James Anderson does – make life difficult for the best of batsmen.

Anderson bowled six overs in the morning, slipped out a couple of beauties, but Rohit and KL Rahul more or less blunted him, playing close to the body and playing late. Also, Anderson was about a foot short in terms of hitting the optimum English length. It changed post-lunch.

His length became fuller, he was making the ball to straighten after pitching and the zip was back. Cheteshwar Pujara shouldered arm and survived a leg-before decision against Ollie Robinson on DRS, but Anderson at the other end was relentless.

James Anderson England’s James Anderson celebrates taking the wicket of India’s Virat Kohli on Day 2 on the 1st Test. (Reuters/Paul Childs)

An inswinger pitched on the off stump and seamed away, taking the outside edge of Pujara’s bat to Jos Buttler behind the stumps. During his brief stay at the crease, India’s No.3 looked a tad edgy.

The lead-up to the battle royal had a big applause from a full house at Trent Bridge. Virat Kohli was walking out to bat. Anderson, his tail up, was waiting. The first round of the contest lasted just one delivery. The ball once again swung in before straightening. Kohli had to play the line, but the India captain stretched out a little to defend it.

Anderson set off for a high-octane celebration. Kohli walked back to the pavilion. “It’s always nice to get a world-class batsman out. (For me) it was just emotions coming out,” Anderson said after the day’s play. Two wickets on Thursday took his Test tally to 619, on a par with Anil Kumble.

Virat Kohli looks dejected after being bowled by England’s James Anderson. (Reuters/Paul Childs)

In 2014, Kohli faced 50 balls from Anderson, scored 19 runs and got out to the bowler four times. In 2018, he made it one-all, facing 270 deliveries from the England fast bowler and scoring 114 runs without being dismissed even once. Season 3 of the battle has started with an Anderson knockout, as Kohli’s golden duck helped England fans find their voice. For the first two hours, their Indian counterparts were raising the rafters.

Under pressure, India’s approach became uncertain. Ajinkya Rahane survived a run-out opportunity before running himself out. Rahul had pushed a Robinson delivery towards short point and yelled out a ‘no’ straightaway. But Rahane hared down from the non-striker’s end and a direct hit from Jonny Bairstow made him a sitting duck. India’s porous middle-order calls for consistency from the team’s vice-captain.

From 97 for no loss at one stage, India suddenly slid to 112/4. They eventually finished the day on 125/4, 58 runs adrift of England’s first innings total.

It could have been worse, for Anderson had Rahul fishing at a delivery – another inswinger that straightened after pitching – but Dom Sibley couldn’t hold on to the catch at second slip. Rahul was batting on 52 then. Returning to the Test fold after two years, the 29-year-old scored a polished half-century in testing conditions. He gradually regained his fluency and remained unbeaten on 57.

As for Rohit, yet again, a very promising innings was nipped in the bud. It happened in Australia. It happened in the final over before lunch at Trent Bridge also. England pacers barely used the short ball against the Indian openers. So when Robinson bowled a bouncer to Rohit, it had a surprise element. The latter hooked instinctively and found Sam Curran at deep backward square leg. The ball got big on him and maybe, Rohit could have avoided playing the shot.

“That’s my shot. Five yards here and there, and the fielder probably would have struggled. A bit unlucky to get out that way,” the opener said post-day.

Rohit now has a tight defence, which holds him in good stead in swinging conditions. All through his 175-minute stay at the crease, he was untroubled. His range allowed him to score off every scoring opportunity. Rohit and Rahul looked to be in total control and the hosts were looking flat, when the former fell prey to his shot selection.

Rishabh Pant came and charged down the track against Anderson. A Motera carry-forward heightened the excitement. Much to everybody’s chagrin, dark clouds and rain appeared to halt the proceedings. Despite two resumption attempts, the day was done.

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