‘Insufferable’ Kohli riles England with blown kiss

Former India captain Virat Kohli has drawn the ire of English cricket fans after not-so-lovingly blowing a kiss to dismissed batsman Jonny Bairstow.

After knocking up his third-straight ton, Bairstow nicked to Kohli at first slip off the first ball of a new Mohammad Shami spell for 106.

Kohli – who hasn’t scored an international century since November 2019, his last against Bangladesh – and Bairstow had been involved in a verbal stoush for much of the second session, forcing the umpires to intervene.

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Once the sledging began, though, Bairstow started playing much more aggressively and was scoring quickly when he was dismissed. Former Indian batsman Virender Sehwag tweeted that Bairstow’s strike rate had risen from 21 to 150 after engaging with Kohli.

Having crawled to 16 off 65 balls, Bairstow cut loose by flicking, driving and pulling the pacers for several boundaries, including two big sixes off Siraj and Thakur after umpires changed the ball because it had lost its shape.

Alas it was Kohli who had the last laugh. As Bairstow walked off, cameras caught Kohli blowing him a kiss.

Bairstow came to the crease with England 3-44 after India had been bundled out for 416 in their first innings.

When nightwatchman Jack Leach fell for a duck, England were on the ropes at 5-83. New England skipper Ben Stokes joined Bairstow to steady the ship and put on a 53-run partnership before Stokes holed out to Shardul Thakur.

Bairstow then teamed up with Sam Billings to put on 92 for the seventh wicket, before Bairstow nicked to slip.

A short time later, the hosts were bowled out for 284.

In their second dig, India are 3-125 at stumps having extended their lead to 257.

Cheteshwar Pujara showed plenty of patience and also survived two close lbw appeals to remain unbeaten on 50. Rishabh Pant, whose 146 led India to a strong 416 in the first innings, was not out on 30.

The pair shared an unbeaten half century stand with Pujara completing his gritty 33rd Test half century in the last over of the day off 139 balls.

Bumrah has so far had a dream Test debut captaincy. His 3-68 with the ball followed an unbeaten 31 off 16 balls. That included 29 runs off the bat in an over bowled by Stuart Broad on Saturday which cost England a world record 35 runs overall.

Bairstow and Stokes had survived a tricky first half-hour against Bumrah and Mohammed Shami (2-78) after England resumed the day on 84-5. Both bowlers beat the outside edges of the batters multiple times before Bairstow launched the counterattack to perfection.

Stokes tried to break free, perhaps recklessly, and was twice dropped in quick succession when pacer Shardul Thakur (1-48) couldn’t hold onto a high ball and then Bumrah dropped his counterpart at mid-off.

However, Stokes didn’t survive for long with Bumrah holding onto a difficult catch at the same position from the next ball off Thakur.

After Bairstow fell, Siraj sliced ​​through the tail quickly as Sam Billings (36) was bowled, Broad got a top-edge off a sharp bouncer and Matthew Potts was ruled out caught in the slips by the television umpire in what appeared a controversial decision.

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England hit back very early in India’s second innings when James Anderson (1-26) struck off his third delivery and had Shubman Gill (4) caught in the slips before India went to tea at 1-37.

Hanuma Vihari (11) attempted a hard drive against Broad (1-38) early in the last session and was caught by Bairstow.

Kohli, who hasn’t scored a test century since his 136 against Bangladesh at Kolkata in 2019, started off confidently with his trademark cover-driven boundary. But he was undone by Stokes’ extra bounce and was dismissed for 20.

Kohli couldn’t leave the ball as it brushed off his gloves and Root took a brilliant one-handed reflex catch after it bounced off wicketkeeper Billings’ gloves.

India leads the five-match series 2-1. This match was supposed to be played in Manchester last September, but was called off at the 11th hour after COVID-19 concerns in the Indian dressing room.

– with Damien McCartney

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