Wait goes on for James Anderson in epic Virat Kohli tussle

Nagraj GollapudiDeputy editor at ESPNcricinfo4 Minute Read

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The epic bout resumed at 4.40pm on Saturday afternoon. James Anderson versus Virat Kohli. A hush fell over The Oval.

Kohli had already skipped his way to 16 having survived some testing deliveries from Sam Curran. Once again India needed Kohli to stay strong. England needed Kohli to start thinking of 4-1 series win. But no one wanted Kohli like Anderson.

Both men knew the other's plan. Kohli has not budged despite being troubled on more than a handful of occasion. Anderson has walked back to his bowling mark and returned with a strong desire to defeat the opponent. Neither has budged, making their duel that much more compelling.

Until this afternoon Anderson had delivered 246 balls to Kohli and beaten the outside what felt like a million times. Both men would retire to their corners after every over to recharge.

Anderson nearly had Kohli first ball. An 81.8mph delivery that pitched on length, around the fourth stump probably. Since he was standing out of the crease, the length Kohli was playing was slightly fuller so he pushed at the delivery and was beaten by the late away movement. The English fans let out a collective sigh. Kohli retreated to the corner of the pitch. Let his bat relax between the legs. Loosened the stress in his hands. Re-strapped his gloves, twirled his bat and walked back to his batting mark.

Anderson pushed the second delivery slightly fuller. Kohl leaned forward and pushed in front of square. No run. Anderson was bowling with the seam slanting towards the slips. Kohli was waiting for the ball to swing in. But he was not ready for the way it would come in.

Anderson came from closer to the stumps and swung the ball with the shine this time on the outside. The ball started on the fifth stump, but swerved in at Kohli. The ball hit the outside of Kohli's front pad. Kohli's toes and his bat face were pointing straight. Anderson jumped in delight, flipped back, raised both hands, pointed both index fingers in the direction of the umpired, roared "howzat" and kept roaring till he nearly went breathless. He was joined in unison by all the other Englishmen on the field and the fans watching. Kumar Dharmasena did not budge.

The battleESPNcricinfo Ltd

There was little doubt the review would follow. Kohli was saved by the umpire's call as the ball struck him just outside the line. Anderson was shaking his head as he walked past the umpire. At Edgbaston, in India's, Anderson had forced Kohli to edge twice, both times floored by Dawid Malan in the slips. He was later denied an lbw by the umpire's call, too. Once again the script was repeating. Anderson was hurting.

Distracted, Anderson bowled a rare bad delivery down the leg side, which Kohli duly punished with a firm flick for a four. Anderson was annoyed, obviously. He walked back to his mark still shaking his head. Although he improved his line for the final two deliveries, Kohli played them safely.

But Anderson had not yet had his last word. You did not need to be an expert at lip reading as Anderson said "you should have given that out" to Dharmasena without looking in his eye as he almost snatched back his jumper. He would keep muttering as he walked to his fielding position.

Dharmasena was not impressed by Anderson's reaction and indicated as much. He called captain Joe Root to have a word. Just then Kohli got involved, too. He walked around the umpire towards Anderson, making gestures, and, probably telling him to focus on his bowling. Anderson was ticking. Joel Wilson, the other on-field umpire, asked the players to resume play.

Six minutes of intensity, skill and theatre. This was what fans paid the money to watch. This was the top billing of this five-Test series. Anderson would bowl 18 more deliveries at Kohli and three balls before the end of his spell find a leading edge which didn't reach point. He was then replaced by Ben Stokes and in the closing moments of the day Kohli's edge was taken: caught Root, bowled Stokes.

Anderson v Kohli. There is one final bout left. Anderson needs three wickets to pass Glenn McGrath as the most prolific pace bowler of all time. If you can, come and watch in the next two or three days the final chapter of this epic duel.