Former England captain Nasser Hussain praised Indian skipper Virat Kohli for making some adjustments to his game in the fourth Test against England to deal with his weaknesses outside off stump against pacers. Hussain, however, opined that Kohli seems burdened by the amount of cricket India are playing and hence it isn’t surprising that he is playing so many tired shots.
Kohli looked good during his stay out in the middle on Day 1 of The Oval Test but perished immediately after reaching his half-century. The Indian captain tried to turn one to leg but only managed to edge Ollie Robinson behind the stumps.
Writing in his column for The Daily Mail, Hussain credited Kohli for making an effort to counter England’s plans and briefly forcing them to rethink. He stated:
“It's the sign of a champion cricketer that they're always looking at their game, and trying to improve - even in a series where the matches come and go at such a rate. So when Virat Kohli came out to bat on Thursday, it was noticeable how much thought he'd put into the difficulties he's been facing in that channel outside off stump. There was clearly a trigger movement to get on off stump and cover it, and then try to leave everything outside his eyeline.”
“Batting in England against the Dukes ball is tough, as India are discovering, but Kohli had gone away, addressed an area of concern, and tried to overcome it. The upshot was that, for a while, England were unsure whether to carry on bowling in the channel, which became wider than usual because of Kohli's trigger movement, or go for the magic ball and try to trap him lbw, because he was covering his stumps,” Hussain added.
According to the former England captain, England were a bit too full to Kohli, especially at the start of his innings. He pointed out:
“Early on, they went for magic twice, and Kohli just hit it back past mid-on. It was a real touch of class, and showed how the best players force opponents to rethink their plans.”
“If anything, England were a bit too full to Kohli, especially at the start of his innings, when there were too many floaty drive balls. It was as if they were still bowling a Headingley length, whereas at The Oval, you want to be about 30cm shorter than that if you want to hit the top of off stump,” he added.
After dropping Kohli, England realised where to bowl to him: Nasser Hussain
Kohli received a life while he was on 22 when Joe Root dropped his opposite number in the slips off the bowling of Chris Woakes. However, according to Hussain, even though England had let the Indian skipper off the hook, they had figured out where to bowl to him. Hussain further wrote:
“When Chris Woakes had Kohli dropped in the slips on 22, it was from a perfect Oval length, and after that England realised where they needed to bowl to him. Look at how they'd been getting him out all series - just below waist height outside off stump. Once they reverted to that, they regained a bit of control.”
Admitting that Kohli would be unhappy with his dismissal, Hussain urged fans and critics not to be too harsh on him considering the amount of cricket he is playing and the fact that he is also leading the side. Hussain added:
“Kohli will have been disappointed with the shot that proved his undoing. Ollie Robinson bowls a nice inswinger, and Kohli presumably thought he could work it round the corner. But he was surprised by the bounce, and ended up closing the face of the bat.”
“We shouldn't be too hard on Kohli. The amount of cricket that both these sides play - more than any other teams in the world - can be exhausting, and Kohli bears the extra burden of captaining India, with all the demands that come with the job,” Hussain concluded.
India were bowled out for 191 on Day 1 of The Oval Test, Shardul Thakur top-scoring with 57. Kohli's side hit back later in the day, however, to reduce England to 53/3. Umesh Yadav cleaned up English skipper Joe Root (21) just before Stumps, while Jasprit Bumrah scalped both England openers.