The second Test between India and England at Vizag was always going to be special. Given everything that transpired in the first Test, with a resolute performance by England almost putting India on the back-foot, coupled with the fact that Vizag was going to host its first ever Test, meant that there was plenty to look forward to.
The Indian Cricket Team made sure that Indian fans were entertained in the build-up to the Tests by revealing bits and pieces of the possible playing combination. First, it was revealed that KL Rahul would be called back to the squad, nearly pushing Gambhir out of the door. The very next day, Kohli, in a press conference, revealed that Gambhir was only a back-up to KL Rahul and that the latter would get the nod.
With all that fuss out of the way, we finally come to the 17th of November where Virat Kohli wins the toss and elects to bat.
There was almost a sneaky feeling, at least in my head, that KL Rahul would fail. I don’t know what it is about sport, but sitting there, on your couch, you sometimes visualise these things. And true enough, on just his 5th ball back, Rahul was caught fending at a delivery from Stuart Broad outside his off stump, of course, it took his outside edge and flew to the slips, and of course, Ben Stokes held on.
Murali Vijay looked amazing in his quick-fire 20. In fact, he was so amazing that the commentators were left fretting that they would run out of adjectives in the first hour. James Anderson came to the visitors’ rescue and caught Vijay napping by throwing in a short delivery that found another outside edge.
Over to Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara then
Both colossal run-makers. Both stalwarts in the current Test side. But both, so very, very different.
While Virat Kohli is the epitome of a modern athlete, built like a god, incredibly fit, equally comfortable in front of the camera or on the pitch, Pujara, on the other hand, is a little more old-school, a fitting tribute to a bygone era as he plays the game at his own pace.
It wouldn’t take a genius to notice the contrast when the two of them are on the field. While it is debatable as to who the better batsman in Test cricket is, there can be no doubt over who the better fielder is.
Virat Kohli covers ground like a jaguar, while Pujara moves around well.. not much like a jaguar.
On day 1 of the first Test, all kinds of chaos would ensue between the pair
The duo did well enough to rescue India from a precarious position, taking the team to 65 – 2, when they were at one stage reeling at 22 – 2.
Come the 17th over of the game, the duo would forget how to communicate with each other.
16.6 – Kohli taps the ball towards midwicket and races off. Pujara, appears to almost get stuck in his crease, like his mind is clogged, as he starts-and-stops-and-starts before scampering across and putting in a despairing dive to save his wicket.
Kohli admonishes him.
17.2 – Kohli taps the ball towards point. They take the single comfortably enough. Pujara makes his way back for the second, Kohli at this point has signalled that there is no second run on offer, Pujara realises this too late, makes an awkward u-turn, dropping his bat in the process and puts in the dive again to make it home safe.
If Kohli admonished him then, he absolutely destroys him here.
The commentators were having a field day describing how these two players provide the perfect contrast to each other. They survived till lunch, where I’m sure Pujara would have tried to find a nice corner, away from Kohli’s eyesight to enjoy his meal.
However, being pure professionals, the two have since recovered, recorded half-centuries each while bringing up a 100 run-partnership, and continuing to build the perfect platform for their team.