England pace spearhead James Anderson rued poor slip catching that let Virat Kohli off the hook in the first innings but hoped England can still bowl India out cheaply to win the first Test at Edgbaston.
The duel between the 36-year-old, Test cricket’s second most successful pace bowler, and Kohli made for riveting viewing on the second day before the Indian skipper, dropped on 21 and 51 by Dawid Malan, went on to hit 149. He was 43 not out in India’s 110/5 as the visitors were left to score 84 more for their first win at the ground.
“It’s been really exciting, if not a bit frustrating at times,” Anderson told reporters after the day’s play on Friday. “It’s gone to and fro, the standard of cricket has been pretty good. To be a part of it is great, and tomorrow we’ve got a really good chance of winning the game.
“We know it’s going to be 25-30 overs max one way or the other, so we can give it all we can.”
He bemoaned poor catching. “It’s an area where we’ve struggled for two years now. The personnel in the team has changed quite a lot, so it’s been difficult to get a set cordon.
“You can’t drop Kohli on 21 because he’s one of the best players in the world and he’ll capitalise on that, which he did.”
Anderson said getting Kohli early would make the difference between victory and defeat. “More than likely, yes. If he bats like he did in the first innings, even batting with the tail, it was so hard to keep them on strike — the way he batted with the tail was brilliant.
“(But) It’s a really exciting place to be, because you know we could do something special by winning this.
“So we’ll go to bed dreaming about getting Kohli out first thing.”
Anderson got Kohli out four times on the 2014 tour when he averaged 13.4 with a top score of 39. Did he notice changes to Kohli’s technique?
“I don’t know what adjustments he’s made, I’ve not spoken to him about it. I don’t really look at his technique too much, I just concentrate on where I want the ball to go, where I want it to pitch and do in the air or off the surface.”
He made it clear the battle would continue into the five-Test series.
“I’ve been encouraged the way I’ve bowled at him in this game so far, found the edge a few times in the first innings – and on another day I could have got him for 20, and then we’re not talking about how brilliant he is.
“We could be in a much different position now. But that’s not the case, we’ve just got to go away and know we can get him.
“No one is invincible in world cricket. We can get him out, and we’ll be trying to do that in the morning.”
Asked if he felt, with Kohli standing outside the crease, he could have pitched it short in the first innings, Anderson was sarcastic. “Maybe we should get you into the next (team) meeting?
“We’ll look at it, sit down after the game and look at what he’s done.
“I think we’ve bowled pretty well to him. Other than the back-end, when he batted with the tail, got his hundred and looked like he went into one-day mode, until 60-70 runs, I thought we bowled really well at him.
“I know we’re talking a lot about Virat Kohli, but they’ve got a fantastic batting line-up.”