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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

World Test Championship final: Virat Kohli-Shubman Gill tango key to Oval success 

What could work in India’s favour is that they won’t have to deal with Anderson or Stuart Broad, masters of swing

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 04.06.23, 06:16 AM
Shubman Gill at practice at the Arundel Cricket Club ahead of the WTC final, starting on Wednesday.

Shubman Gill at practice at the Arundel Cricket Club ahead of the WTC final, starting on Wednesday. Twitter

The world around him seemed to crumble during that ill-fated 2014 tour of England. In his own words, he battled depression and felt like the “loneliest guy in the world” after a string of failures.

Virat Kohli averaged 13.50 in his 10 innings with a highest of 39. “That was a phase when I literally couldn’t do anything to overturn things,” he had said recalling those tough times after being sorted out by James Anderson.

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Having become “insecure and fearful”, he sought Sachin Tendulkar’s help. It helped. Kohli visualised facing Mitchell Johnson in match situations and chalked out his strategy. No wonder, he was back among runs in Australia, accumulating 692 runs in four Tests, including four centuries.

Mental adjustments, besides technical adaptability, also helped him succeed on the next tour of England in 2018. Having made modifications in his bat speed and displaying the ability to wait for the ball without pushing at it made a lot of difference. He finished as the top scorer in the five-match series with 593 runs.

Though he had a mediocre run in England in 2021, he had picked up the traits to achieve success in such conditions: being patient and able to leave the ball while also playing late and waiting for it to come to the batter.

Virat Kohli at practice.

Virat Kohli at practice. Twitter

A fabulous IPL in the lead-up to the World Test Championship final at The Oval has put the focus back on Kohli and Orange Cap winner Shubman Gill. The red Dukes ball can be tricky in such circumstances but both Kohli and Gill have the experience to deal with it.

What could work in India’s favour is that they won’t have to deal with Anderson or Stuart Broad, the masters of swing.

The weather has been dry in England and not much rain is forecast during the coming days. The Oval is expected to offer bounce which could suit Kohli’s style of play.

Virat Kohli (extreme right) with wife Anushka Sharma and teammate Shubman Gill at the Wembley, watching the FA Cup final.

Virat Kohli (extreme right) with wife Anushka Sharma and teammate Shubman Gill at the Wembley, watching the FA Cup final. Twitter

The occasion will always propel him to excel. If the batters can provide the foundation, it will be much easier for the bowlers to exert pressure. How a Kohli or a Gill performs could thus dictate the outcome.

Gill hasn’t had much experience in England and has failed miserably in both Tests. The transformation from T20 to Test cricket will be difficult but the opener has matured immensely over the last few months.

Gill has had problems with the short-pitched stuff in the early stages of his innings and the Australian pacers will be keen to capitalise. But how much pace the wicket offers could also be crucial in dealing with such situations.

‘Impossible is nothing’ is the tagline for Team India’s new jersey sponsors. If the batters play true to the slogan it could show the way for ending India’s trophy drought.

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