Responding to Virat Kohli's claim that team success was more important than his own performances in England, James Anderson has suggested the India captain will be "desperate to score runs" during the upcoming five-match Test series. Anderson, England's attack leader and the world's No. 2-ranked Test bowler, is once again ready to duel with the world's No. 2-ranked Test batsman, Kohli - a contest Anderson termed "exciting".
On July 2, speaking in Manchester on the eve of the T20 series against England, in the only media conference he has given so far on tour (which started late June), Kohli said he had set no targets for himself. He just wanted to have a good time. "It doesn't matter whether I get runs or don't get runs, what I want is the team to play well and the team to win," Kohli said.
When Kohli's comment was put to Anderson, he laughed and playfully suggested that the India captain was telling "lies". "It doesn't matter if he gets runs or not? I think he is telling lies there," Anderson told PTI in a chat conducted during the ODI series. "For India to win here, of course it matters. Virat will be desperate to score runs for his team, as you would expect from the captain and one of the best players in the world."
In 2014, Anderson exposed Kohli's mindset and technique, getting him out four times in 10 innings. But today Kohli is recognised as one of the best batsman across the three formats. Anderson, who has spent several weeks recuperating from a shoulder problem, acknowledged that point and said that Kohli would by now be better equipped. "I am sure he is practising hard at certain aspects of his game and that will make the battle between him and not just myself, but him and the rest of our bowlers, a really exciting one."
Asked whether he would prefer trying to get an upper hand over Kohli with the red or white ball, Anderson suggested neither would be easy. He said that players like Kohli, along with other top-ranked batsmen like Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Steve Smith, had more time and their best quality was they could adapt quickly to any format or condition.
"You would think that the red ball swings more or does more off the seam but it doesn't work like that," Anderson said. "When the players you mention, and not just Virat, they play the ball so late that they have got so much time and they make you feel slow as a bowler. It is hard with white or red ball. Sometimes when batsmen are trying to be more attacking in white ball cricket than red ball, you might create more chances, but overall it is hard to say."
One big factor that played a huge role in India losing the 2014 Test series 3-1 was the weather. Four years ago it was a genuine English summer: overcast, seaming, swinging conditions. In contrast this summer has seen a prolonged "heat wave", with the mercury hovering around the 30-degree mark. Anderson said the conditions certainly favoured India on pitches that would be drier, but he was hopeful of some rain before the series begins.