Virat Kohli falls short of century as India show guts at Trent Bridge

India skipper Virat Kohli celebrates reaching 50, he was to fall three short of a deserved ton. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2018
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Virat Kohli falls short of century as India show guts at Trent Bridge

India captain Virat Kohli fell three runs short of a century but had the satisfaction of leading an India batting revival on the first day of the third Test against England at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
At stumps India were 307 for six after losing the toss.
A day of fluctuating fortunes ended when James Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, struck with the new ball to have Hardik Pandya (18) caught by Jos Buttler at second slip.
That meant Anderson, who before this match had 60 Test wickets at Trent Bridge at just 18.95, had become only the second bowler after Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan to take 100 Test wickets against India.
Earlier India, sent into bat at 2-0 down in a five-match series on a ground renowned for aiding swing, were in trouble at 82 for three come lunch.
Chris Woakes took all those wickets en route to figures of three for 75 in 20 overs.
But a fourth-wicket partnership of 159 between Kohli (97) and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (81), that spanned more than 40 overs, revived India.
Unfortunately for India, neither batsman reached three figures with Kohli — who made a brilliant first Test century in England in the series opener at Edgbaston — dismissed when he edged an intended drive off an Adil Rashid leg-break to Ben Stokes at slip.
Much of the pre-match attention had been focused on Stokes, recalled just days after his acquittal on Tuesday by a court on an affray charge that stemmed from a fight outside a Bristol nightclub in September last year.
But until his catch to dismiss Kohli, it had been a frustrating day for Stokes, whose 15 wicketless overs cost 54 runs.
India were well-placed at 60 for none when Woakes took two wickets for one run in nine balls to remove both openers, with Shikhar Dhawan (35) caught at second slip before KL Rahul (23) was LBW.
And on the stroke of lunch, Cheteshwar Pujara hooked Woakes, man-of-the-match after scoring a maiden Test century in England’s innings and 159-run win in the second Test at Lord’s last week after replacing Stokes, straight to Rashid at long leg.
But Kohli, who on Friday had urged India “to stand up” was as good as his word, while showing no sign of the back trouble that hampered him at Lord’s as he and Rahane treated an engrossed crowd to a traditional top-order Test partnership.
It was a fitting way for India to honor former captain Ajit Wadekar, whose death aged 77 was announced on Wednesday, as were the black armbands they wore in memory of the first India skipper to enjoy a Test series victory in England, back in 1971.
After tea, Rahane had moved on to 57 when Anderson just failed to hold what would have been a spectacular catch at backward point following a flashing edge off Woakes.
Kohli was in superb touch, a gentle push off Woakes speeding down the ground for four.
Rahane eventually fell when he edged Stuart Broad, bowling on his Nottinghamshire home ground, and Alastair Cook at first slip held a brilliant left-handed catch off a chance that really belonged to motionless wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow.
Rashid, having not been required to bat or bowl at Lord’s, then had Kohli, to the star batsman’s evident fury, taken by Stokes to end a 152-ball innings including 12 fours.
But debutant wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant (22 not out), was undaunted, the left-handed batsman scoring his first Test runs in style when, to just his second ball, the 20-year-old left-hander went down the pitch to drive Rashid for six.


India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

Updated 18 September 2018
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India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

  • India brace for Pakistan after surviving stern test against minnows Hong Kong
  • Usman Shinwari: Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high

DUBAI: As delirium sweeps the UAE ahead of the mouth-watering encounter between arch rivals India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup, it seems one man — at least outwardly — is not as excited as the rest of the country and cricketing fans the world over.
India captain Rohit Sharma played with a straight bat when asked about the biggest clash in world cricket, set to take place today at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. On his first Asia Cup media outing the 31-year-old seemed unconcerned by the impending showdown with their fiercest opponents, his focus instead on facing Hong Kong, who Sharma and Co. had a big scare against on Tuesday.
“Right now, we are not focusing on Pakistan as (first) we are playing Hong Kong,” Sharma said on Sunday. “Obviously we have to focus on that particular team but once we have finished that game we will focus on Pakistan and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
These are clearly the words of a man so media trained that by now he could easily be on the other side of the desk, asking the same questions he and his colleagues sometimes enjoy batting back with crafted clichés that speak of focusing on “one game at a time” or the like.
Sharma was clearly right to not take his eyes off the ball with Hong Kong — they are not here to merely make up the numbers, as their brilliant, battling performance on Tuesday illustrated. But at the same time, Sharma will be all too aware that as India skipper the one match you do not want to lead your side to defeat in is the one against Pakistan, regardless of competition and location.
Clearly India are not leaving Pakistan preparations to the 14 hours or so (sleep included) between the close of the Hong Kong clash and the toss prior to resuming Indo-Pak cricketing rivalry. To suggest they are would be naive at best.
A year on from Pakistan’s show-stealing Champions Trophy final victory over the old enemy in June last year, and a whole five years since the two sides met outside of an ICC or ACC event due to strained political relations, the appetite for the first of potentially three matches at this year’s Asia Cup is huge and one borne out of starved hunger.
Pakistan’s Usman Shinwari, fresh off defeating Hong Kong on Sunday, was more candid than Sharma.
“Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high, and every player dreams of doing well in this contest,” the fast bowler said. “I took three wickets (against Hong Kong), I hope that can be five wickets against India.”
Shinwari’s sentiments were echoed by his captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, who is absolutely clear on the levels of expectation that this fixture demands from fans on both sides of the border.
“The passion is always there,” said Sarfraz. “When you play against India everyone wants us to win as it’s against India.
“The fans say that whatever happens you have to win but as a captain I have to win against every team. It would be the same for India whose fans want them to win. It has happened in the past that any player who performs in the Indo-Pak match becomes a national hero.”
UAE cricket fans cannot wait for the clash. It took just a few hours for the first batch of tickets to be snapped up, the second bought in equally ravenous fashion. It has left a huge number of tickets now being touted across online marketplaces, social media platforms and, ultimately, will likely see the inflated resales being pawned outside the stadium on matchday too.
An expected 25,000 fans will swell the Ring of Fire, set to deal not only with cricket’s most fierce rivalry but also with all the unpredictability that will be thrown their way.
The famed traffic jams around Hessa Street, leading up to the stadium, and local entrances of Dubai Sports City will heave and efforts have been made to ease the burden of vehicles that will cart both sets of fans in and out of the area. Gates will open from 12p.m. local time, a whole three and a half hours before the first ball has been bowled. In an emirate where the last-minute rush is a daily fact of life, this will be not be an easy thing to execute but that, alongside the immense presence of volunteers and security, should prove welcome additions to the day’s running order.
This, though, is India vs Pakistan. Anything could happen.