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India vs England – Time For Kohli to Put His Dismal Past To Rest

November 6, 2016

Australia v India - 4th Test: Day 1

Come November 9, as Virat Kohli and his men take on their toughest opponent in test cricket of late, it will be a whole new challenge altogether for the No. 1 test playing nation. From the captain’s point of view, he will be due to put up a show with the bat which he has merely been able to do against England in the longer format. Also Team India will be piling on the plethora of expectations to set the things right – something which none of their former three sides were able to.

It all started with the humiliating series defeat in 2011 when India were left blank with a 0-4 scorecard. Kohli might not have managed to make his debut back then but he watched his team biting the dust in close quarters. However when England came around in 2012 Kohli had already made his mark with an impressive hundred at Adelaide in his debut series against Australia. He walked into the series with the reputation of rising to the occasion. But just when we all thought that he was ready to take on the world, England showed us that the right hander wasn’t. Although he had a century in that series, the only one he has till date against England in tests, it was nothing more than a desperate yet an unsuccessful attempt to save the blemishes of getting undone by the visitors.

It was not the end though. The limited-over run machine was primed to make a strong statement with the bat when his team toured England for another test series, this time a 5-game header. But the things got even more horrifying. While Kohli was considered as the backbone of his team and was supposed to carry the baton he repeated the same mistake over and over only to see his series scores getting reduced to 13.4 per dismissal. James Anderson in particular had him in all sorts of trouble with the ball moving around. So much so that as if he had Kohli’s name written in almost every single delivery he bowled to the Indian No. 4. The tour not only marked yet another pounding outing for Team India, but also their best batsman was belittled by the English bowlers.

Kohli never understood the essence of altering his technique in the middle of the 2014 series, the most agonising he has ever had. It wasn’t great to see one of India’s brightest batsmen getting exposed like that. He just took the things as they come. It was only after the series when he realized that he had not been standing at the right place while batting – something he worked on with precision to climb the mountain of runs since then. It will be interesting to see with what plan do England come up against the Indian skipper but the latter will be desperate of make the most of his rich form.

The upcoming five-test series is perhaps going to be the toughest assignment for the Indian captain who has just turned 28. Ever since he was handed the test captaincy his team has hardly seemed to have put a step wrong. Virat is yet to suffer anything serious either home or away. Having bagged 5 series wins in succession and consequently the No. 1 ranking India are looking just in the perfect shape their fans would want them to be at.

However it still won’t be easy to knock over England. They are a terrific side in all three departments of the game when it comes to the longer version. They have got a number of players to bat around the two of their most accomplished batsmen of this era – the left handed Alastair Cook and the right handed Joe Root. Ben Stokes has announced himself as one of the finest all-rounders of recent times. And even though their lies a huge shadow over the availability of James Anderson for a big chunk of the series, England still look a formidable side with the ball. They have some tall fast bowlers in form of Broad and Finn both having skill and experience. Chris Woakes has been in fine form of late and also the new comer Jake Ball has a fantastic opportunity to break the ice.

England however would know that spin is their weak link. Keeping Moeen Ali’s performance in the 2014 series with the ball in mind, it would still be a bit too much to ask from him if England want him to replicate the same at the Indian backyard. So a lot will depend on how the English seamers can swing the ball – something what Anderson did extremely well during the 2012 series. England do know how to use the conditions if there is anything on offer. Whether be an SG ball or a Kookaburra, they have been successful to move those around at a consistent basis. And if they can live up to their potentials we will have a contest to watch out for. It’s important for India to continue their momentum if they are to hang around the No. 1 test ranking. It’s high time – time for the captain to redeem himself, time for his team to turn the tide.

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