Kohli was unlucky but looked good, the rest of the upper order was shaking against the masterful Anderson and the fiery Potts

As a barrel-chested Matthew Potts burst into the cheers of his teammates after knocking out Virat Kohli, the former India skipper looked helpless at non-striker Rishabh Pant before flashing a wry smile in the distance. As if fate were conspiring against his resurrection.

Kohli felt unlucky, as he exuded more confidence than most of his top five colleagues. He was off to a good start – until that moment of indiscretion – blocking valiantly, disciplined off the off-strain and looking like the 2018 vintage. a well-outside benign bullet that ricocheted from under the bat onto his stumps. But Potts’ rebound troubled him – he almost cut it. That wrecking ball didn’t bounce as much, and Kohli was a little late to make up her mind.

The rest of his colleagues, however, departed in familiar fashion. Shubman Gill slashed behind, pushing hard on a short ball from Anderson, after looking smooth in his 24-on-17-carry stay that included four limits. Gill may not have expected this length from Anderson. This one bounced a little more than Gill had measured and shaped to throw it off balance. The frame was eerily identical to his dismissal in the first leg of the practice game against Leicester.

It was another testament that Anderson is one of the master craftsmen of his sport, controlling every little nuance of his craft. The new ball which barely misbehaved, before the lacquer wore off, made England’s decision to play under the puffy clouds a bit dodgy. Anderson therefore resorted to swinging seams and good length balls, exploiting movement off the box rather than through the air. Then he negotiated Gill’s wicket with a short ball.

This was to be Anderson’s mantra of the day. It wasn’t classic Anderson slapping the full length and moving the ball this way and that. It was Anderson with a deep understanding of the batsman’s mind, conditions and surface. He had tormented Cheteshwar Pujara throughout the series, so he had no intention of altering his default plans.

Pepper it with good length balls and turn it over. Pujara would be sucked into a semi-advanced defensive push and an edge behind. The dismissal sequence was written all over the gray clouds, and so it went. Pujara looked undercooked – Broad scared him with nip-backers, one of them deemed lbw, before it was called off. So it was a walking invitation for Anderson.

The second most experienced Test cricket of all time, a wealth of 172 Tests and naturally gifted, Anderson detects the slightest flaw in a batsman. Shreyas Iyer is doubtful against the short ball. So Anderson played short, with a leg slip for Iyer’s reflex shot. The surface wasn’t fast, Anderson didn’t get any faster either, but his short balls were so crisp and precise it stung. On the contrary, the slowness made those who were inconvenient for Iyer to duck or sneak. Iyer, who was adamantly driving Potts and reversing the momentum, finally gloved the leg side of Sam Billings.

On the other side, Potts growled. Despite its solid construction, it exudes a lightness, a rare fusion of grace and power. It struck just as Hanuma Vihari and Virat Kohli were rebuilding. There was an element of good fortune in both dismissals. Vihari was blown past the stumps in what appeared to be a natural variation – the seam, mid-air, suggested the ball would fly away, but after landing it exploded into Vihari’s pads. The drummer was amazed. He thought the ball would go away, and even if it went in, it would miss the stumps. But he did not take into account the exaggerated movements. Then came the Kohli moment. His litany of woes continues.

Comments are closed.