Get Kohli, win the Test. Certainly, James Anderson sees it that way.
England’s premier fast bowler is relishing what lies ahead, with England needing five wickets and India 84 runs after what has been three days of utterly compelling Test cricket. “We’ll go to bed dreaming about getting Kohli out first thing,” admitted Anderson.
The battle between England’s leading wicket-taker and India’s leading light has been one of the highlights of a match that has had everything. After Kohli’s majestic 149 in the first India innings, Anderson is wary that if he shows anything like that kind of form on Saturday, the game is only going one way. The visiting captain will resume his innings on 43.
“We need five wickets, simple as that, fairly quickly – otherwise, they’ll get the runs,” said Anderson. “We’ve just got to give it everything we’ve got in the morning for the first 15-20 overs – leave absolutely nothing out there. It’s a really exciting place tobe,because you know we could do something specialtomorrowby winning this. It’s such a close Test match.”
However, Anderson lamented England’s poor catching which, ultimately, has them on a knife-edge when it could have seen them well ahead. In the first innings, Kohli was dropped in the slip cordon by Dawid Malan twice – on 21 and 51 – before making his game-changing score. So far, Englandhavedropped four catches in this match.
“It’s an area where we’ve struggled for two years now,” said Anderson. He’s not wrong. Since the start of 2016, Englandhavedropped 81 catches and 44 of them have been in the slips, according to CricViz. Anderson puts it down to the constant state of flux the team has been in over the period.
“The personnel in the team has changed quite a lot, so it’s been difficult to get a set cordon. But we’re just going to have to keep working harder and harder, pushing ourselves to be better, because you can’t keep creating the chances we are and not taking them. You can’t drop Virat Kohli on 21 (Anderson was the bowler) because he’s one of the best players in the world, and he’llcapitaliseon that – which he did.
“We’ve spoken about it because of theamountof drops in the last two years, maybe even longer. When I wasinthe team that got to number one in the world, we caught everything. We had an amazing cordon, very fortunate, that was settled. At the minute, we’re struggling a little bit. All we can do is work extremely hard at it, and hope to improve.”
Nevertheless, the quality of cricket onshowhas not been lost on Anderson, who admits to both excitement and frustration regarding the events of the last three days of his 139th Test. One last pushtomorrowwill make it one of the most memorable in recent history for an English fan.
“What’s been great is the way the momentum has shifted, Test cricket at its best – the way we dominated the first two sessions of the match, then India wrestled back the momentum, then it was our job to go out and bowl well.
“To be a part of it is great, and tomorrow we’ve got a really good chance of winning the game.
“If we recover well tonight and come back fresh in the morning, we know it’s going to be 25-30 overs max one way or the other – so we can give it all we can.”
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