Swing, Seam and Red-Ball Cricket in England - Virat Kohli's Nemesis!
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Swing, Seam and Red-ball Cricket in England – Virat Kohli’s Nemesis!

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli, the India captain would want to turn the tables around in the England Tests this time around. Image Courtesy: Getty Images

The India captain, and perhaps the most dominant figure around the world cricket, Virat Kohli, had his issues with the fourth and fifth stump line in England on the last tour in 2014.

India, under the tutelage of former skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had begun the Tests on a brighter note. Failing to find success at the Trent Bridge, India later accomplished Lord’s and entered history books. What followed, didn’t just disappoint everyone but left many questions unanswered as well?

Among the many failures Team India had endured, their talismanic batsman, Kohli coming short of his expectations and getting exposed under such conditions, was the most worrying one.

The first of many Virat’s failures on last England tour –

The right-handed batsman was made to remain silent with the bat, as the England bowlers were all over him. Managing to hit just 134 runs across ten innings at an appalling average of 13.14, and many would call it embarrassing. Virat ran out of answers, and trust me, the English media loved it to the core.

Virat Kohli
Playing the wrong line had left Virat Kohli without huge scores in Tests in England. Image Courtesy: Getty Images

The Tabloids had his name on the top with the question mark around,  ‘Is he still the Best?’ Well, the pundits had their say and going by the numbers Virat attained, not many were left happy and had contrary answers to this particular question. Why not? Anyone would.

Kohli was then nearing the tag of being called, the master of his generation, at least; such was his reputation in world cricket.

So, what went wrong for India’s poster boy? Was he out of form? Did he feel reluctant in English conditions, or was he unfit? The answer to all is NO. It was something which left him midway and showed him the door, the fourth and fifth stump line. That was definitely a masterstroke the hosts played and got duly rewarded.

Virat Kohli fishing outside the off-stump, trying to put his bat forward, and missing the trick of waiting for the ball to come had set demons in his mind, and eventually, it got the better off him.

The England bowlers, James Anderson in particular, had him on the backfoot, or instead, had left his feet jampacked. It led the India batsman not to follow his body balance, and thus failing to get going.

Unfortunately, throughout the five Tests (ten innings), his score read 1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0, 7, 6 and 20. Let alone this, not many would have thought, Bhuvneshwar Kumar would score more runs (247) than him in Tests. Such was his misery back then.

Virat Kohli
James Anderson, Stuart Broad, and Liam Plunkett hampered Kohli’s chances of making it big on his first England tour. Image Courtesy: Getty Images

Learning from the mistake:

A couple of years later, under his guidance, India reached the finals of the Champions Trophy in England but went down to their arch-rivals, Pakistan by 180 runs.

Pakistan’s wrecker in chief, Mohammad Amir,  jolted India’s top-order in no time, including the second-highest run-scorer Virat Kohli on a mere six; and how did the captain get out? Well, not surprisingly, he played the wrong line and found a significant edge to get out.

So, the captain didn’t learn from his past mistakes or was that a One-off game? Of course, the answers would be out soon.

Now, after four years, aged 29, and having 56 international hundred to his name, Kohli has some unfinished business in England.

Ahead of the much-awaited tour, the India captain had signed for Surrey, but unfortunately, his stint was cut short because of the neck injury he sustained during the recently culminated Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018. His only chance of getting used to the conditions overseas was left on the shore.

Before leaving for the United Kingdom (UK) tour, Virat had even talked about not making it to England beforehand,

“In hindsight, not playing county cricket was the best thing to happen at that moment. Although I wanted to experience the conditions, that’s a place where we haven’t played so much. There is a big gap of four years. I wanted the damp conditions to acclimatise,” he said ahead of leaving for Ireland.

Virat Kohli
Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli. Credits: Punit Paranjpe/AFP.

However, Virat hasn’t lost the track and is upbeat and animated to alter the numbers in England, and especially to tackle the much-talked-about fourth and fifth stump line.

The forthcoming tour of the UK, including two Twenty20 Internationals against Ireland and three T20I’s, as many One-day Internationals and five Tests against England, would determine the fate of this young Indian team, led by the very own Kohli.

So much so, we can hope, the captain Virat Kohli prevails over the demons of swing, seam and the fifth stump line on the upcoming tour.

The tour would begin with a T20I against Ireland on June 27th in Dublin.

Gautam Sodhi

I am more than just a cricket lover. I have been breathing this game since I was three, and now I am making a living out of it. Also, FC Barcelona happens to be my second love, and evidently, I prefer Lionel Messi over Ronaldo.