Virat Kohli and R Ashwin have unfinished business in England: Sunil Gavaskar

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar believes that Virat Kohli’s 149 at Edgbaston has rubbished notions that he needed a one-month county cricket stint to prepare himself for five Test matches against England, and that in dominating the contest, he and R Ashwin had stamped their greatness.

Writing in today’s Times of India, Gavaskar called on Kohli’s batting team-mates, who have thoroughly underperformed in the ongoing Test, to take out time and play more red-ball cricket.

 

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“Kohli made a mockery of the thinking that he needed to play county cricket to get a big score in England. Kohli is an exceptional talent and can get runs even if he wakes up in the middle of the night,” wrote the former India captain. “More than him, it is the other guys who have lesser talent who needed to spend more time playing against the red ball, as was seen by the way they struggled against the moving ball. Even if India go on to win the Test and the series, the decision to play just one three-day game in the fortnight’s gap has clearly not helped the other batsmen. More than Kohli, it’s the others who need more time against the red ball. Kohli can’t rescue the team every time.”

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India’s first-innings total of 274 owed almost entirely to Kohli, who made 149 while adding 92 runs with the tail, of which eight runs combined came from Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. In the first innings, the next highest score was Shikhar Dhawan’s 26. Murali Vijay, Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya and R Ashwin managed 87 runs between them.

In India’s chase of a target of 194, Kohl has made an unbeaten 43 while Vijay (6), Dhawan (13), Rahul (13), Rahane (2) and Ashwin (13) all failed again.

By scoring a superlative 149 on day two, Gavaskar said Kohli had underlined his reputation as the “best batsman in the world”.

READ: Talking Points: Ishant, Curran, dropped catches and more

“He was watchful to start with and understandably so as India had lost three wickets in quick succession and Anderson kept probing him with an off-stump line and away swingers. Then he had me luck, as any batsman would require in such conditions,” he wrote.

He then identified how Kohli and Ashwin, after poor returns in the 2014 Test series in England, had “unfinished business” this time around.

Cookbowled

“Their last tour in 2014 was a forgettable one. In the intervening period, both had taken giant leaps towards greatness and had almost reached the summit. The last leg remained and that’s invariably the most difficult one to surmount. By the time the first Test was halfway done, both had conquered the peak and cemented their places in the pantheon of greats of the game,” he wrote.

“There was never any doubt about both Ashwin and Kohli’s skill and temperament but more than to the rest of the world, they had a point to prove to themselves. Ashwin got the ball to spin, wobble and turn both ways on the first day of the Test match itself and nobody could say that the pitch helped him. It was skill of the highest order as he wove a web around the England batsmen. The deliveries to castle a batsman of Alastair Cook’s experience takes some doing but Ashwin did it with comprehensive ease.”