What a start for Virat Kohli as the captain of India’s limited-overs format! His brilliant hundred sealed a dramatic win at Pune and left England to rue about what went wrong.
350 for 7 in 50 overs. The visitors were left happy with the thoughts, finally, their woes will come to an end, and they would be able to register their first win in the ongoing tour to India. They took the field without even guessing what was about to come in the second part of the match.
A certain Virat Kohli would burst into the scene from nowhere and make his first stint as the captain of India’s limited-overs team an unforgettable one.
The Virat Kohli factor still did not loom large in the minds of the English team as India’s start to the run chase was not a rosy one.
The openers were back in the pavilion early while, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni soon departed. India were reeling at 63 for4 and Virat Kohli was left stranded all alone at the other end of the wicket.
The situation was muggy, but as a captain, he was not willing to bog down without a fight.
Between the fifth over since his arrival and the 12th, in which Dhoni fell, Kohli played out 15 dot balls out of the 25 he faced, and had nearly been caught at the third man fence while trying to break away. Jadhav’s quick assessment of the situation and Kohli’s requirement, proved very important in scripting a comeback.
England’s failure to stop Kohli
England anticipated tough life on the field in India, but that didn’t stop them from coming in with a solid plan to restrict Kohli and force him to take risks. Eoin Morgan kept a short third man and often had a wide slip in place for Kohli, not letting him pinch easy singles with a dab down to third man in the early stages of the game. The Indian captain had to reinvent, and poised himself to take risks which fortunately paid rich dividends for India.
England’s biggest mistake of the night was perhaps not realizing that keeping Kohli off strike during the partnership wasn’t necessarily a successful ploy. Even in the company of Jadhav, who was taking calculative risks all through his innings, England needed a spinner of Ravindra Jadeja’s accuracy to tie a batting side down on a flat wicket, and neither Adil Rashid nor Moeen Ali was equipped with such a skill. Rashid leaked runs in his first spell, mostly to Jadhav, who had a keen eye for poor bowling and vacant areas in the field.
His spinners ran out of steam and exhausted their variation to no avail, as Kohli reached his record 17th century in ODI run-chases thereby equalling Sachin Tendulkar’s record.
Even with cramped and tired legs, Jadhav was able to hit big shots after the dismissal of Kohli, thereby not allowing the team to bob down under pressure and kept chipping away with runs. Hardik Pandya, who joined Jadhav next at the wicket also came and started playing his shots. From cover drives, to upper cuts, Pandya played with the field in the final overs as the England bowlers were running out of steam and ideas in the final power play.
Finally, after the dismissal of Jadhav, who scored a 76 ball 120, the final script of the story was written by Hardik Pandya and Ravichandran Ashwin who added 38 runs to take India through to a victory.
England failed to capitalize on the good start that their seamers provided. They had absolutely no answer to Kohli’s beautiful and exquisite stroke play as he showcased yet another masterclass innings.
To sum it up, it can be said that Kohli’s brilliance with the bat helped India overshadow their mediocre bowling efforts which will need an improvement in the next two games. Whether there will be any changes in the team in the next two matches, is difficult to predict right now, but that the Indian bowling attack needs to come up with a better effort is a sure shot takeaway from the first encounter.