India assume complete control

India assume complete control

STYLISH: Indian skipper Virat Kohli drives one to the fence on the third day of the third Test against England in Nottingham on Monday. Reuters

Virat Kohli made amends for the moment of madness in the first innings by hammering a deserved century in the second outing as India buried England under an avalanche of runs and move closer to a much-needed victory in the third Test.

Dismissed by Adil Rashid for 97 on Saturday after his ego got the better of him with the landmark in sight, Kohli rode on a major piece of fortune while on 93 to score an otherwise composed and brilliant 103 (197b, 10x4) to completely flatten England at Trent Bridge. With others like Cheteshwar Pujara (72, 208b, 9x4) and Ajinkya Rahane (29, 94b, 3x4) rallying brilliantly around him and then Hardik Pandya (52 not out) having some fun late in the day, India declared their innings at 352/7. England, chasing an improbable world record target of 521 runs, were 23/0 at stumps on the third day.

From the time he took guard in the morning on an overnight score of eight, it was very clear that Kohli not only wanted to bat England out of the contest but suck every bit of life left inside them after they collapsed to 161 in the first innings. While he was in form, having scored a century and a half-century in the opening Test at Edgbaston, his fellow batsmen, including overnight partner Chesteshwar Pujara, were woefully out of form.

With lots of time remaining in the contest, he wanted Pujara and Rahane to spend enough time in the middle and regain their confidence. He posted valuable partnerships with both of them, often encouraging them while they appeared in trouble. He also delayed the declaration until the fag end of the day so that Pandya, whose fifer wrecked England in the first innings, ends up having a near complete match.

Kohli mixed caution with aggression during the early part of the innings, ensuring the innings progressed at a steady pace despite Pujara enduring some worrying moments. While he was fluent, hardly troubled by anything, Pujara constantly kept fishing outside the off-stump, even edging once which was dropped by Jos Buttler. Kohli kept talking to him constantly and Pujara eventually cut off his temptations to play a solid knock thereafter.

The duo then put an already battered England to the sword. Kohli was severe with anything that was in his zone, cover-driving elegantly and showing the courage to pull or hook when it was pitched short.

India kept piling on the runs and when a century was there for the taking, Pujara threw it away with a lazy piece of shot-making. As Pujara admonished himself, Kohli shook his head in anger. Kohli, however, was not going to miss out on his century. He stepped on the pedal an hour after the lunch session before tightening his game with tea on the anvil.

The final session was all about when Kohli would get his 23rd ton and go on par with Virender Sehwag. Kohli’s heart was in his mouth when he edged a James Anderson delivery on 93 but Keaton Jennings let the ball slip past his fingers at gully. Kohli edged the very next ball but it fell short of Alastair Cook at first slip. Kohli then took a moment to calm himself down and brought up a deserved century before blowing kisses to his actress-wife Anushka Sharma seated in the stands. Kohli departed soon after but he had played his part in putting India on the verge of victory.

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