(England 9/1 and 287 lead India 274 by 22 runs, Stumps Day 2)
Virat Kohli shrugged off any doubts and defied his detractors placing himself at the forefront of India's massive fightback on the second day of the first Test at Edgbaston. He hit his first Test hundred in England, a monumental 149, which helped India amass 274 in reply to England's 287. The hosts batted for 15 minutes and closed the day on 9 for 1, an overall lead of 22.
It was Tom Curran who rattled the tourists’ top order on Thursday (August 2) with a fine spell of 4 for 74. When Ben Stokes (2 for 74) sent Dinesh Karthik back for a blob, India had their backs to the wall at 100 for 5. But then the Indian captain slowly changed his approach. Kohli farmed the strike and strung key partnerships with the tail to lift India from the shambles and took them within touching distance of England's first-innings score.
Play of the Day
It was Ravichandran Ashwin who made sure that England will fret overnight. With just 15 minutes of play left, Kohli threw the new cherry to the offspinner, something which an Indian skipper last did in July 1967 in England. The 31-year-old produced another gem to get rid of Alaistar Cook (0), who was bowled in identical fashion as in the first innings. The former England captain was defeated by the drifting delivery which spun a long way and hit the top of his off stump. India couldn't have asked for anything more. How monumental was this? Cook had never been dismissed bowled twice in a test match before today.
Performer of the Day
There was a lot of speculation about Kohli's poor record in England but the Indian skipper responded in some style. He battled a testing spell by James Anderson but things got easier once he surpassed fifty. Kohli shifted gears when India were reeling at 169 for 7. He combined with his bowlers to add 105 runs off 153 for the last three wickets out of which the Indian captain tallied for a staggering 92 off 117. He was the last man out but not before he made a brilliant 149, 15 more than what he had managed off five Tests during the last tour of England in 2014. Yes, he rode his luck as he was dropped twice but fortune favours the brave, doesn't it? Incredibly, during the two last partnerships Kohli scored 90% of the runs and faced three quarters of the deliveries - a textbook example of how to farm the strike and make it count.
Kohli's knock has jolted England severely. With Cook's wicket, the momentum has swung massively in the favour of the Indians. India, however, will need to keep it tight tomorrow morning and keep pegging away at the hosts. With the pitch wearing, the Indians would not want to chase anything over 200. We are set for a tense finish one way or another.