Virat Kohli backed to finally shine in England ahead of four-Test series

Virat Kohli is in fine form, but can he finally get Test runs in England?
Updated 29 July 2018
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Virat Kohli backed to finally shine in England ahead of four-Test series

  • Last time in England the India skipper only scored 134 runs in five Tests
  • England pace ace James Anderson says the pressure to perform will be very much on Kohli

Virat Kohli has plundered Test runs in virtually every corner of the cricket world but England is a scoring desert for India’s superstar captain ahead of a tricky five-match series.
He returned from his first England series in 2014 with just 134 runs from five Tests, unable to counter swing bowlers. India, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain, lost the series 3-1.
The 29-year-old Kohli is now back in England as reigning ICC player of the year and the world’s leading batsman with an average of over 53 in 66 Tests.
He has hit 301 runs in six limited-overs matches on the tour.
India won the Twenty20 series and lost the one-day internationals, but Kohli knows that his Test performance — starting in Edgbaston on Wednesday — will be the benchmark of success.
Former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin said Kohli is a completely different batsman from the last tour and an exemplary leader of the top-ranked Test side in the world.
“At that time, it was his first tour... now he has got so many runs behind him and I think will perform wonderfully well,” Azharuddin told AFP.
“He has led India in so many Test matches so I don’t think he will have any pressure now as far as leadership is concerned.”
Kohli struggled against seam bowlers in 2014 with England paceman James Anderson dismissing the right-handed batsman four times in the series.
The Indian skipper has insisted he is not concerned about his personal performances against England, hitting out at critics for putting the spotlight on his 2014 failure.
His form has been noticed in the England camp, however. Anderson said the Indian captain was “telling lies” by saying his own runs do not matter.
“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,” Anderson said.
Azharuddin backed Kohli’s view that the team’s performance is more important.
“Cricket is not a game of one individual. It doesn’t work like that. Everybody has to score runs one person can’t win you a game,” said the cricketer-turned-politician.
“If the ball is seaming, batsmen in both teams will struggle. But having said that, India have a great chance of winning in England this time.”


Man City humbled in 2-1 loss to Lyon in Champions League

City were humbled by French side Lyon in Manchester. (Reuters)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Man City humbled in 2-1 loss to Lyon in Champions League

  • City’s players were humbled 2-1 by Lyon in a sloppy and apathetic display at the start of their European campaign

MANCHESTER, England: If Manchester City wants to finally win a first Champions League title, it will have to start taking the competition a bit more seriously — on and off the field.
Surrounded by swathes of empty seats in the Etihad Stadium, City’s players were humbled 2-1 by Lyon in a sloppy and apathetic display at the start of their European campaign on Wednesday.
Banned from the touchline and unable to communicate with the bench, City manager Pep Guardiola did fill one seat in the stands and he saw his Premier League champions easily picked apart by the French visitors.
“We felt under threat every time we lost the ball and sometimes that brings the confidence a little bit lower,” said City assistant manager Mikel Arteta, who was in charge on the bench in Guardiola’s absence.
Errors by midfielder Fernandinho led to both Lyon goals, typifying how careless City was against a team that finished third in the French league last season and was even held to a draw at the weekend by 10-man Caen.
When a pass by the Brazilian midfielder was intercepted around the halfway line, Lyon charged forward. Nabil Fekir sent in a cross from the left that evaded Fabian Delph’s swinging legs, allowing Maxwel Cornet to slot it home in the 26th minute. Delph held his head in his hands as the consequences of his mistake became clear.
City’s troubles deepened when Fernandinho was caught in possession again. Memphis Depay set Fekir on a run and the forward doubled Lyon’s lead in the 43rd by striking through the legs of John Stones.
“It was a difficult game,” said Depay, who struggled to make an impact at Manchester United before leaving after two seasons in 2017. “But when we had the ball we tried to play and when we won the ball we tried to counterattack.”
Perhaps the only reason for City to feel aggrieved in the first half was Gabriel Jesus being denied a penalty when he was tripped by former Manchester United defender Rafael da Silva just before Depay scored.
“To concede two goals like we did is very frustrating,” Stones said. “We came in at halftime a bit deflated I think. But we picked ourselves up and we came out second half fighting and played a better second half.”
But the improvement wasn’t sufficient.
City pulled one back in the 67th when Bernardo Silva scored from substitute Leroy Sane’s cutback. But the attacking threat was too patchy from a City side that won the Premier League with a record 100 points only four months ago, and are widely seen as one of the big favorites in this season’s Champions League.
“I suffered as I was scared they’d score a second goal,” Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. “We would have taken 2-2 before the match but given the way the game went we’d have been disappointed not to leave with the three points.”
With Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk also in Group F, City appeared to have one of the kinder draws but is now playing catch-up.
Celebrating a decade under Abu Dhabi ownership, which allowed City to assemble a squad for more than $1 billion, the Champions League is the one big prize the club has yet to win.
But City fans still have a fraught relationship with Europe’s premier competition.