Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh feels that Virat Kohli was unlucky as he was at the receiving end of an awkward Mitchell Starc delivery that led to his dismissal. The ace batter was dismissed for 14 runs in the first innings of the World Test Championship (WTC) final at The Oval courtesy of a delivery that bounced higher than expected off a good length.
The Australian bowlers put in a much better showing with the new Dukes ball compared to their Indian counterparts. The Men in Blue collapsed from 30-0 to 71-4 as each of the four Australian pacers managed to claim a wicket apiece to strengthen their case.
Defending Kohli by stating that no other batter could have played that delivery, Harbhajan Singh said on his YouTube channel:
"Mitchell Starc's delivery to dismiss Kohli was the toughest delivery of the entire match so far. Luck eluded Kohli this time as well because the ball bounced in an awkward fashion. This delivery would have been difficult for any other batter as well."
Australia scored 469 runs in the first innings courtesy of hundreds from Travis Head and Steve Smith. India, however, could not assert themselves on the bowlers when it was their time to bat. The Men in Blue finished Day 2 at 151-5 with Ravindra Jadeja salvaging the innings to an extent with a well-compiled 48-run knock.
Harbhajan stated that he had high expectations from the in-form Indian batters.
"There were a lot of expectations from Rohit Sharma and the in-form Shubman Gill when India came out to bat. The initial impression was that if these two gave India a solid start, then India have enough batting to score plenty of runs," he said.
None of the Indian top four batters were able to cross the 15-run mark. Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara were dismissed in a similar fashion after trying to leave the ball while Rohit Sharma was also a victim of a delivery that jagged back in after pitching.
"It will be a bit difficult to bat on this pitch as the game progresses" - Harbhajan Singh
The pitch at The Oval started to misbehave a bit on Day 2 with clear, variable bounce on offer along with considerable movement off the pitch as well, which the Australian bowlers capitalized on.
Since India elected to bowl first, they will face the hard task of batting in the fourth innings on the deteriorating surface.
Harbhajan Singh said that either Ajinkya Rahane or KS Bharat will have to play the innings of a lifetime to get India out of this tough rut.
"It will be a bit difficult to bat on this pitch as the game progresses because there is some uneven bounce already. If Rahane or Bharat come in and play an exceptional knock on Day 3, then only there is a chance for India," he said.
"We have been left disappointed by Team India in ICC events consistently now. Here also, the batters have not given the platform from which the team can stay in the contest. I hope that Rahane continues the fight, he has looked in good touch so far. Hopefully, he gets the support from Bharat and Thakur," Harbhajan continued.
At Stumps on Day 2, India were placed at 151-5 after playing out 38 overs on Day 2. Ajinkya Rahane and KS Bharat occupy the crease currently, unbeaten on 29 and 5, respectively.
Could Virat Kohli have dealt with Starc's delivery in a better fashion? Let us know what you think.