Master batsman Kohli almost serves India a victory dish

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Just as Sashi Cheliah became Masterchef 2018 last Tuesday, master batsman and captain Virat Kohli played two superb innings of 149 and 51 in the Birmingham cricket Test against England a few days later.

To total 200 runs in a single Test as a captain as he did last week is remarkable in the history of Test cricket. India’s noted cricket statistician and good friend Rajesh Kumar informs me that Kohli is the only batsman to score 200 runs in a Test as a captain nine times; three times against England, twice against Sri Lanka  and once each against Australia, West Indies, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

Next best are Brian Lara of West Indies and Australia’s Ricky Ponting who totaled 200 or more runs in a Test as captain seven times each.

Kohli’s two masterly innings last week has put him on top of rankings among Test batsmen. He became the first Indian batsman to be ranked number one in Test since the legendary Sachin Tendulkar in June 2011.

Currently Kohli is followed by Australia’s Steve Smith at number two, then England’s Joe Root, New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, Australia’s David Warner and India’s Cheteshwar Pujara.

Despite Kohli’s masterclass, India lost the thrilling and swinging Birmingham Test to England by 31 runs. Indian bowlers off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and quickies Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami bowled superbly but batsmen let India down against England’s brilliant pace attack – Ben Stokes and 20 year-old Sam Curran dominating.

Curran was adjudged Man of the Match for rescuing England from a crushing defeat. In the second innings England was on her knees at 7 for 87. Coming in to bat at number 8, he scored an invaluable 63 and took England to 180.

The second Test starts in London on 9th August. What changes should India make to level the series one-all?

Classy batsman Pujara has to be brought back in place of Ajinkya Rahane or Lokesh Rahul. India needs a spinner to support Ashwin. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja or mystery spinner Kuldeep Yadav should replace Hardik Pandya.

 

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