With an aim to put aside the demons of the horrendous 2014 tour, Indian team skipper Virat Kohli will leave no stone unturned to conquer the final territory on the English soil. His duel against the England pace battery will be a contest to watch out for from the upcoming five-match Test rubber, starting on August 1 in Birmingham. Also Read - LIVE IND vs NZ WTC Final Live Cricket Score, Today Match Latest Updates Day 2: Play Resumes in Southampton; Kohli-Rahane Hold Fort For India
But England pace spearhead James Anderson has started the war of words much before the on-field contest as he says the Indian captain will be lying if he states that “it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t score runs as long as India wins”. Anderson also added that Kohli’s individual form will definitely have an impact during the series. Also Read - India vs New Zealand Live Streaming Cricket WTC Final, Day 3 Southampton: When And Where to Watch IND vs NZ WTC Final Live Stream Cricket Online And on TV
In 2014, the 29-year old star batsman struggled to get going and managed only 134 runs in five Tests in England. It was his one of his worst Test performances. It is a blot on his stellar career to this day, even though he scored 655 runs in five Tests against England in the home series (2016-17) to lead his side to a 4-0 win. Also Read - WTC Final: New Zealand Will Have Advantage - VVS Laxman After Virat Kohli Loses Toss
“It doesn’t matter if he gets runs or not? I think he is telling lies there,” Anderson said in jest when asked about Kohli’s statement during an exclusive chat with PTI on Monday.
At the beginning of the ongoing tour, Kohli had laughed off queries about his form, stating that he intends to enjoy his time here rather than obsess over his individual form as long as the team does well.
“For India to win here, of course it matters. Virat will be desperate to score runs for his team, as you would expect from the captain and one of the best players in the world,” Anderson said.
The 35-year-old pacer has an outstanding record against Kohli, having dismissed him four times in six innings during the 2014 tour. Overall, in Tests, Anderson has dismissed Kohli five times going back to 2012.
However, Anderson struggled during the 2016 tour of India with modest returns of four wickets in three Tests.
“Today, cricketers learn from not only watching match footage but also from past experiences. So I would expect a batsman of Kohli’s quality to have learnt from that last series here (in 2014).
“I am sure he (Kohli) is practising hard at certain aspects of his game and that will make the battle between him and not just myself, but him and the rest of our bowlers, a really exciting one,” Anderson said.
Interestingly, there is a heat wave in England at present and the conditions could suit India more in the upcoming series.
Talking about the Mumbai incident (in 2016), where he had a run-in with Ashwin on nature of sub-continental pitches Anderson added, “I think in India, pitches are a lot slower. Here you would expect a little more pace in the wickets, so maybe the bowlers have that little extra.
“…we have had a hot few weeks (and a hot summer overall). So the pitches may well be dry and suit India more than us. That is something we will take into account when we come into that series. We will be hopeful that we have a couple of weeks of rain before the series starts and be able to grow some grass on the wickets.”
Kohli has scored 301 runs in six limited-overs innings on this tour at an average of 60.2. India won the T20I series 2-1 and England claimed the ODIs by a similar margin. The visitng skipper’s two half-centuries in the ODI series, 75 in Nottingham and 71 in Leeds, showed he is in ominous form.
When Anderson asked about it, he replied, “No. I think, it is a really difficult one to answer because you would think that the red ball swings more or does more off the seam. But it doesn’t work like that.
“A batsman like Virat plays the ball so late that they have got so much time and they make you feel slow as a bowler. It is hard the with white or red ball. (But) sometimes when batsmen are trying to be more attacking in white ball cricket the than red ball, you might create more chances. Overall it is hard to say.”
With AB de Villiers retired, Steve Smith serving a year’s ban and Kane Williamson enjoying some off time during New Zealand’s winter, this summer promises to be a clash between two in-form batsmen, Kohli and Joe Root. Having bowled to all of the above names, Anderson was asked to pick the best batsman in world cricket at the moment.
“Well I don’t like bowling to any one of them to be honest,” he replied, with a smile.
“It is hard to pick one of them because they are all different in their own way. They have all got a lot of qualities. The thing that makes them stand out above other batsmen around the world is how they adapt to all different forms of the game.
“That’s what’s most impressive to not only be able to score 50 off 20 balls in a T20 but also get a 100 off 250 balls in a Test match. It takes a special batsman and special mentality to do that. So, I will sit on the fence and say these are the best batsmen in the world, and not pick one,” Anderson said.
(With PTI Inputs)