NOTTINGHAM: August 18, 2008 saw a young Virat Kohli make his debut in international cricket. He came agonizingly close to making the 10th anniversary a memorable one till lightning struck late in the day.
Kohli (97), on the verge of his 23rd century, shaped up for a cover drive to an Adil Rashid leg-spinner and ended up nicking it to first slip. It was anticlimactic, to say the least, but by then, Kohli had given a fresh lease of life to India in this series. At stumps, India were 307/6, with Hardik Pandya (18) getting dismissed on the last ball of the day. Debutant Rishabh Pant, though, looked gritty and stayed unbeaten on 22.
Kohli, playing with a back injury, didn’t put a foot wrong during his 152-ball stay at the crease and it was his 159-run stand for the third wicket with Ajinkya Rahane that fashioned the first sense of authority by an Indian pair in this series. Rahane (81), too, seemed to have outgrown the demons of the mind that took a toll in the first two matches and came up with an innings of class.
India, after being put in on an overcast morning, suddenly undid the good work of the first hour to lose three wickets in the second. Openers Shikhar Dhawan (35) and KL Rahul (23) didn’t come up with huge contributions, but they showed the mettle to take the fight to the English attack. The duo played as late as they could and tried leaving quite a bit and in the process put up 60 runs. But Chris Woakes, coming one change, had both in quick succession and when Cheteshwar Pujara threw his wicket away with lunch just a delivery away, India were once again under the pump.
James Anderson & Co knew it was a matter of getting one among Kohli and Rahane out early in the second session to take charge of the match. But that was exactly the time when the two buckled down. The fact that the sun had come out and the ball got a little old helped both Kohli and Rahane, but they showed that they had worked out a method to play the swing. Both looked to play the ball right below their nose and the moment there was something short or on the on-side, they were ready to pounce.
Another fascinating aspect of their three-hour sojourn at the crease was the delightful running between the wickets. Both Kohli and Rahane were constantly on the lookout for the singles and that kept the scoreboard ticking all the time.
Rahane and Kohli matched each other in the strike-rate department and the Mumbai batsman looked good to get a century as well. But Stuart Broad pitched one up and induced an edge off Rahane that was superbly snapped up by Alastair Cook at first slip. Kohli, followed soon after but they had already induced a sense of belief in the Indian batting line-up.
Pant opens account with a six
Pant, walking in at No. 7, gave the impression that he is cut out for the big stage. And, it took the Delhi boy just two balls to jump out of his crease and hit Rashid for a six to open his account. Pant, thus became the first Indian to get off the mark with a six in Test cricket.