James Anderson, the England pace spearhead, said that Virat Kohli, the India captain, is ‘lying’ if he believes his own form wouldn’t matter much to him “as long as India wins”.
At the start of the England tour, when asked about his own goals, Kohli had said: “It doesn’t matter whether I get runs or don’t. What I want is the team to play well and win.”
“It doesn’t matter if he gets runs or not? I think he is telling lies there,” Anderson noted in a light-hearted manner to PTI. “For India to win here, of course it matters. Virat will be desperate to score runs for his team, as you would expect from the captain and one of the best players in the world,” he added.
Kohli, the Indian mainstay, had a forgettable Test tour of England in 2014, where he amassed just 134 runs over five Tests. However, he showed his class and quality by accumulating 655 runs in five Tests against England in the home series (2016-17) to lead his side to a 4-0 thumping win. On the other hand, the 35-year-old veteran swing bowler has accounted for Kohli’s scalp on five occasions in Tests, which includes the four times he dismissed the fulcrum of the Indian line-up in the 2014 Test series.
Anderson, though, expects a player of Kohli’s class to learn from past mistakes. “Today, cricketers learn from not only watching match footage but also from past experiences. So I would expect a batsman of Kohli’s quality to have learnt from that last series here (in 2014). I am sure he (Kohli) is practising hard at certain aspects of his game and that will make the battle between him and not just myself, but him and the rest of our bowlers, a really exciting one.”
Meanwhile, UK is currently experiencing a ‘heat wave’ and as per the weather forecast, it could continue for a while longer. It might result in pitches being on the drier side for the Test series. Anderson said that England would take into account such conditions, but also hoped there would be a bit more pace in the wickets. “We have had a hot few weeks (and a hot summer overall). So the pitches may well be dry and suit India more than us. That is something we will take into account when we come into that series. We will be hopeful that we have a couple of weeks of rain before the series starts and be able to grow some grass on the wickets,” he said.
Anderson, who is battling a long-standing shoulder problem, has been in very good form since the India series two years ago, evidenced by the 73 scalps he has picked up at 19.1 in that period. While commenting on Kohli’s fine form (301 runs at 60.2) during the limited overs leg of the tour, Anderson noted that the Test series would be played with the red Dukes ball. The Dukes ball has a prominent seam, which in turn assists swing and seam bowlers.
“I think, it is a really difficult one to answer because you would think that the red ball swings more or does more off the seam. But it doesn’t work like that. A batsman like Virat plays the ball so late that they have got so much time and they make you feel slow as a bowler. It is hard with white or red ball. (But) sometimes when batsmen are trying to be more attacking in white ball cricket than red ball, you might create more chances. Overall it is hard to say.”
Over an international career spanning nearly 16 years, Anderson has bowled to numerous world class batters including modern day greats like Virat Kohli, Joe Root (in county cricket), AB de Villiers, Steven Smith and Kane Williamson. When asked to pick one batsman out of the lot, Anderson said with a smile, “Well I don’t like bowling to any one of them to be honest. It is hard to pick one of them because they are all different in their own way. They have all got a lot of qualities. The thing that makes them stand out above other batsmen around the world is how they adapt to all different forms of the game.
“That’s what’s most impressive to not only be able to score 50 off 20 balls in a T20 but also get a 100 off 250 balls in a Test match. It takes a special batsman and special mentality to do that. So, I will sit on the fence and say these are the best batsmen in the world, and not pick one,” Anderson added.
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