On a truncated day two of the rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston, Virat Kohli was heard saying “A bit faster than Southee, eh?”, at a time when Jonny Bairstow was struggling to find his way in bowler-friendly conditions. By the time play ended, Kohli had his arm over Bairstow’s shoulder and both had a good laugh.
Sunday was turning out to be a continuation of Bairstow’s cautiousness from the day before. As Kohli chirped again from the slip cordon, he attracted Bairstow’s attention and thus began the exchange of words between the two.
In between, Kohli was seen putting his finger on his mouth and gesturing Bairstow to get back to batting, with words like “shut up, just stand and bat” coming in the 33rd over. The umpires had to come in to separate the duo as England skipper Ben Stokes saw all of this from the non-striker’s end.
On the very next ball, he went for a big, booming drive, only to be beaten by a Shami outswinger with Kohli having a hearty laugh. After all of this, Kohli was spotted having a word with Stokes before he walked up to Bairstow to deliver a friendly punch on the shoulder, with the duo having a hearty laugh over it.
That incident sparked an aggressive turn in Bairstow’s batting approach. Before the clash of words with Kohli, Bairstow was at 13 off 61 balls. After that, the batter shed his cautious self for an aggressive avatar, hammering a whirlwind 93 runs off the next 79 balls to make a belligerent 106, his third Test century in as many matches and fifth hundred of this year, making him the leading run-getter in Test cricket currently.
When Bairstow finally got out to Mohammed Shami, nicking to who else but Kohli in the slip cordon, the former India skipper sent a flying kiss in his direction and home fans in the stadium. People on social media had a field day, wondering why Kohli ignited the fire in Bairstow and got him to reach a century at Edgbaston.
“Why do opposing teams keep making Jonny Bairstow angry lol, he gets 10x better. Give him a gift basket each morning, let him know you’re having his car valeted while he’s batting. Anything to keep him happy,” wrote New Zealand all-rounder James Neesham in his tweet.
“Jonny Bairstow’s Strike Rate before Kohli’s Sledging-: 21. Post Sledging – 150. Pujara ki tarah khel rahe thhey, Kohli ne Pant banwa diya bewajah sledge karke #IndvsEng,” tweeted former India opener Virender Sehwag on how Kohli made a Pant out of Bairstow, who was batting in a Pujara mode.
“Don’t poke the Bear that is Johnny Bairstow again pleaseee..,” wrote former West Indies pacer Ian Bishop.
Bairstow’s effort wasn’t enough to stop England from conceding a 132-run lead to India, who strengthened their pole position in the match.
(Inputs from IANS)