Cricket Column: Anderson vs Kohli & Jadeja. Feud of the year will spice up the series

Sports Tuesday 08/November/2016 16:30 PM
By: Times News Service
Cricket Column: Anderson vs Kohli & Jadeja. Feud of the year will spice up the series

HE suffered a right shoulder injury in June in the third Test against Sri Lanka that kept him out of the first Test against Pakistan at Lord’s and the two-Test tour of Bangladesh, is past 34, knows well that he doesn’t have much shelf life left in his international career, has admitted that at 34 he needed “to manage myself or be managed quite well”, wasn’t expected to be seen around at Rajkot or playing at Visakhapatnam, could have delayed his return so he could resume his business of swing in the safe, familiar English conditions...Instead, James Michael Anderson was to fly in to Rajkot on Tuesday, will be watching the action that begins at Rajkot on Wednesday and is looking to pay the second Test beginning at Visakhapatnam on November 17.
Alastair Cook is amazed by the effort his key bowler has put in to come back quicker than he thought he would and the England skipper reminds the guys in the Indian camp that Anderson isn’t coming here to make up the numbers.
If the International Cricket Council were to introduce a prize for courage, Anderson would certainly figure among the 2016 finalists and would perhaps run away with the award. It takes courage of a rare breed to board a flight to India to hunt down Virat Kohli on the infamous dustbowls here where his swing might not produce the kind of sting he would get on the English pitches.
On the flat pitches of India Anderson may not be as lethal as he was in the 2014 series played in England, and although he was, in the words of MS Dhoni, “the difference between the two teams” during the 2012 tour, doubts have been raised on how Anderson, bowling now at just 80 miles per hour, could get the ball to reverse on the slow Indian surface. Still, despite the facts and figures quoted against Anderson’s effectiveness at 34, the truth of the moment is that much of the five-Test fun would have been lost without Anderson in the playing eleven in a series expected to be won by India from toss to tape. His much-awaited encounters with Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja, both of whom have more than a point to prove against Anderson, matter more than anything else in terms of crowd interest as the series begins today at Rajkot, without him in the playing eleven.
From the Eden Gardens to The Oval, from December 2012 to August 2014, Kohli had been forced to poke at balls pitched by Anderson outside off stump and look back in disgust to see the ball land in the hands of the wicketkeeper or the slip fielders. So far, Anderson has sent down 116 deliveries at Kohli, of which 95 were dot balls, and dismissed him five times, incredibly cheap. The Indian superstar that he is at the moment, Kohli has knocked up just 35 runs against Anderson, hitting just five fours.
Obviously, Kohli stands now a better chance to get back at Anderson. More interestingly, it’s an opportunity for Anderson to deliver the message to the Indians that he could pitch his business where he wants to and make handsome profits. The prospect of Anderson making Kohli poke and prod to his tune and get the Indian skipper out without making an impact looks dim, but the excitement being kicked up about such possibilities, or impossibilities, spices up the series.
Another guy who would be smacking his lips at the sight of Anderson when he walks out to bat or runs up to deliver the ball will be Jadeja. The infamous brawl they were engaged in on day two of the first Test at Lord’s in 2014 may have been legally settled by the ICC by the time the teams had progressed to the fourth Test, but the Indian spinner may be looking at the series as an opportunity to tackle Anderson with bat and ball, not off the field or near the boundary line but right within the 23-yard.
Predictions along the lines of an Indian sweep of the series are unlikely to come true without Kohli and Jadeja, as well as Ravichandran Ashwin, performing at their top. When they do that, and when Anderson tries to swing the game in his favour, it’s going to be an engaging Indian season that will offer the ICC bosses a tip or two on how to pump life back into Test cricket.
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The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman