Jimmy Anderson versus Virat Kohli: A tale of two halves and one ball

The tale of Jimmy Anderson’s tussle with Virat Kohli on English shores is a well-trodden path, but its fascination is put into clearer context by the statistics that accompany it. It is a story of two incongruent chapters, with a wonderful third that is only just beginning.

On India’s 2014 tour of England, Kohli famously struggled, tormented by Anderson wielding the Dukes. Rejuvenated, re-focused and relentless in his outlook, the Indian skipper returned in 2018 to accumulate a whopping 593 runs, this time getting the better over an unlucky Anderson, who had Kohli dropped on several occasions by an often hapless England slip cordon.

On Thursday, the second day of India’s 2021 tour of England, Anderson dismissed Kohli in remarkable fashion, producing a peach to collect his second wicket in two balls and see India’s captain off for a golden duck. With these three incidences of a clash between two greats, and with the numbers of England’s tours of India down the years thrown in, the figures make for brilliant reading.

Off the first 111 Anderson deliveries that Kohli faced, he managed just 30 runs and was sent back to the shed on five separate occasions. Then came the tide shift and the drops, and for the next 454 balls Kohli remained unscathed against England’s king of swing, making 206 runs. After Thursday’s heroics, Anderson has begun the third installment of the face-off in scintillating fashion, with one wicket in one ball against his talismanic rival.

The brilliance of the battle is that both cricketers cause each other huge problems. The momentum shifts one way and then the other, and there is a genuine sense that you are watching the best of the best as one nullifies the other, and vice-versa. The prospect of watching these two legends of the game go to war over the next six weeks is tantalising.