Every cricket match has its fair share of sub-plots and the one dominating the ongoing India-England Test at Mohali is the personal battle that has been simmering between Indian captain Virat Kohli and England’s star all-rounder Ben Stokes.
The friction between the two players continued on day three as Kohli responded to Stokes’ celebration on day two by giving the all-rounder a silent send-off following his late dismissal off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin on day three.
To understand why Kohli gave Stokes a send-off, one needs to go back to the events that have transpired over the last two days of the third Test. On day one, after Stokes was dimissed, the pair shared a fiery verbal spat. For the response, Stokes was reprimanded by the ICC for breaching Article 2.1.4 of the ICC Code of Conduct pertaining to “using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting during an International Match.”
Thus when the all-rounder dismissed Kohli on day two, it wasn’t surprising that he gave the Indian captain a send-off by not giving him a send-off by closing his mouth so as to not incur any further wrath from the governing body. And their battle didn’t end there.
Catch the highlights of Virat Kohli’s send-off to Stokes here
It all transpired in the final over of the day as Ravichandran Ashwin was brought into the attack. Trying to defend a good length ball that pitched on middle, Stokes just got squared up and missed the ball which crashed into his pads and went past the slip fielder to the boundary.
The umpire gave the all-rounder not out but Kohli took his time, before deciding to review the decision. And that worked as the ball tracking technology showed that it was all three reds and the umpire’s decision of Not Out was overturned to send the 25-year-old back to the dressing room.
And it didn’t take the Indian captain too long to remind Stokes of what transpired on day two as he put a finger on his lips and sent him on his way, in a manner that wasn’t too dissimilar to how Stokes covered his mouth, after being reprimanded for his response on day one by ICC, following Kohli’s dismissal in the first innings.
While it certainly a beautiful delivery from the off-spinner to deceive Stokes, who has been in good form, and get him trapped leg before, the ongoing personal battle between Stokes and Kohli is what continues to make the headlines.
With India likely to bat in the second inning barring a miraculous collapse from the visitors on day four, this battle between two of the feistiest characters on both sides will surely continue. And it is something that is unlikely to finish at the end of this Test either and will be something to look out for as the five-match Test series draws towards it end.