Former England captain Nasser Hussain was impressed with Indian skipper Virat Kohli trying to address an area of concern and finding ways to overcome it. He added that Kohli made some minor adjustments to deal with his issues.
“It’s the sign of a champion cricketer that they’re always looking at their game, and trying to improve — even in a series where the matches come and go at such a rate. So, when Virat Kohli came out to bat on Thursday, it was noticeable how much thought he’d put into the difficulties he’s been facing in that channel outside off stump.
“There was clearly a trigger movement to get on off stump and cover it, and then try to leave everything outside his eyeline. Batting in England against the Dukes ball is tough, as India are discovering, but Kohli had gone away, addressed an area of concern, and tried to overcome it,” wrote Hussain in his column for the Daily Mail on Friday.
Kohli reached his second consecutive half-century off 96 balls. Barring a dropped catch on 22, Kohli looked fluent with his cover drives before falling to Ollie Robinson. Hussain felt that Kohli will be upset by his mode of dismissal.
“But Kohli will have been disappointed with the shot that proved his undoing. Ollie Robinson bowls a nice inswinger, and Kohli presumably thought he could work it round the corner. But he was surprised by the bounce, and ended up closing the face of the bat. It was confirmation of the point Rohit Sharma made the other day. He said you’re never in when you’re batting in England. A wicket-taking ball might always be round the corner. And Kohli has now got to 50 in successive innings without going on. That’s unusual for him.
“Before this series, he had 27 Test hundreds and 25 half-centuries, which is an astonishing conversion-rate. So England have done really well to limit him to a pair of fifties – a bit like the opposition used to do to Joe Root. The boot has been on the other foot these past few weeks.”
He also said that the adjustments made by Kohli forced the England bowlers to reconsider their plans.
“The upshot was that, for a while, England were unsure whether to carry on bowling in the channel, which became wider than usual because of Kohli’s trigger movement, or go for the magic ball and try to trap him lbw, because he was covering his stumps. Early on, they went for magic twice, and Kohli just hit it back past mid-on. It was a real touch of class, and showed how the best players force opponents to rethink their plans. If anything, England were a bit too full to Kohli, especially at the start of his innings, when there were too many floaty drive balls.”
The 53-year-old concluded by saying that people shouldn’t be hard on Kohli who has been playing regularly and captaining the Indian team.
“Having said all that, we shouldn’t be too hard on Kohli. The amount of cricket that both these sides play — more than any other teams in the world — can be exhausting, and Kohli bears the extra burden of captaining India, with all the demands that come with the job. It’s no great surprise if he starts to play some tired shots outside off stump. The fact is, he still found time in an impossibly busy schedule to tinker with his game. And, for a while, it was a joy to watch.”