England will be lying back and thinking of Virat Kohli‘s wicket when heads hit the pillows in Birmingham, according to James Anderson. When asked if the India captain’s innings was essentially standing between England and victory after a thrilling third day, Anderson admitted that was “more than likely” the case.
England need five wickets for victory but Kohli has already frustrated them in this Test, punishing two dropped chances in the first innings with a brilliant century and marshalling the tail to bring India back into the match.
“If he bats like he did in the first innings then yeah,” said Anderson. “Even batting with the tail, it was so hard to keep the tailenders on strike to have six balls at them. He just managed to find a gap or just managed to get down the other end. I thought the way he batted with the tail was brilliant.
“So yeah, I mean we need five wickets, it’s as simple as that and we need them quickly otherwise they’ll get the runs. We’ve just got to give it everything we’ve got in the morning for the first 15-20 overs, leave absolutely nothing out there. It’s a really exciting place to be because you know we could do something special tomorrow by winning this Test match, such a close Test match, so we’ll go to bed dreaming about getting Kohli out first thing.”
The contest between Anderson and Kohli has been a highlight of the first Test. Anderson has probed with the swinging new ball, beating the bat and drawing edges from Kohli but could only watch in frustration at near misses and, most distressingly, a dropped catch by Dawid Malan in the first innings. It was one of four drops that have marred England’s performance in the field.
“Yes it has [been frustrating],” said Anderson. “But for us it’s an area where we’ve struggled I think for probably two years now. It’s an area where we’ve changed quite a lot – the personnel in the team’s changed quite a lot so it’s been difficult to get a set cordon and people getting used to being in there, but the lads work really hard at it.
“We’re just going to have to keep working harder and harder pushing ourselves to get better because you can’t keep creating chances and not taking them. We’ve seen that you can’t drop Virat Kohli on 21 because he’s one of the best players in the world and he’ll capitalize on that, which he did.”
England are indebted to Sam Curran, whose 63 runs off 65 deliveries helped them to a total that they could at the very least attempt to defend. If England do pull off a victory on the fourth day it will be largely due to Curran’s confident second innings – which included two magnificent sixes – not to mention the five wickets he has taken so far in just his second Test.
“He’s a really impressive lad,” said Anderson. “I remember me as a 20-year-old and I didn’t know what was going on. I was in awe of everyone and things like that. He’s been around and he knows his game really well for a young lad. His skills are brilliant with the ball, he knows exactly what he’s doing, he knows exactly how to set batsmen up and we saw that he’s got talent with the bat as well.
“I’ve spoken to Alec Stewart before about his batting and a few people have said he’s got the ability to be a top six batsman so I think it’s great to see that and he’s got a little bit of fight in him as well.
“I mean to go out in that situation and show the guts and determination that he did to get the team back into the match when it looked like we were down and out I thought was brilliant to see from such a young guy.”