Former Pakistan batter Salman Butt reckons Indian captain Virat Kohli was prepared to leave balls outside off stump on Day 3 at Headingley, which allowed him to settle. According to Butt, Kohli wasn’t out of form but was attempting too many strokes in earlier Tests and was perishing in the process.
Kohli (45*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (91*) featured in an unbroken 99 run-stand for the third wicket on Day 3 as India launched an impressive fightback in the Headingley Test.
Reviewing Kohli’s innings, Butt said on his YouTube channel that the Indian skipper made a conscious effort not to poke at deliveries outside off. He stated:
“Virat Kohli was scoring 15-20 and then getting out. In earlier matches, he was trying to hit the ball too hard. He wasn’t leaving a lot of balls. On Friday though, Kohli was prepared to leave balls outside off. That's the main difference between his innings on Friday and earlier knocks. If you look at the stats, you will see that Virat Kohli left a lot of balls outside off stump. That was a definite plus in his batting. India will go in with great confidence on Day 4 courtesy the Pujara-Kohli stand. But it will be very important for them to survive the first hour against the new ball.”
Asked if Kohli can finally break his hundred drought on Saturday, the former Pakistan captain pointed out that more than reaching three figures, it will be important for Kohli to spend time at the crease. He elaborated:
“More than scoring a hundred, it will be important for Kohli to bat at least another 2 to 2.5 hours. If he does that, he will definitely score around 150. If he stays in, he will score runs at a brisk pace because he has many run-scoring options. Kohli just needs to carry on from what he did on Day 3. If he can survive against the new ball, it will boost his confidence.”
If Pujara-Kohli help India get a lead of 150-160, England may feel the pressure: Butt
With two full days of play left, England still have the upper hand as they are leading by 139 runs. However, according to Butt, things could turnaround if Pujara and Kohli continue their good work on Day 4 and help India get a lead of around 150-160. He elaborated:
“Both Pujara and Kohli are well set. India are now trailing by around 140. From this position, if India manages to get a lead of 150-160, it will keep them in the game. The ball will turn on this pitch as there are rough patches on both sides. Ravindra Jadeja will come into the game. There will be reverse swing as well so India can put pressure on England.”
“For that to happen, Pujara and Kohli need to bat till lunch. At the most, India can afford to lose one wicket. If Pujara and Kohli score hundreds and lower-order contributes, then the match can get interesting. India have done it before, against Australia in Kolkata (2001), when Dravid and Laxman had that big partnership."
India ended Day 3 of the Headingley Test at 215 for 2. Apart from Kohli and Pujara, opener Rohit Sharma also contributed a defiant 59.