England ace pacer James Anderson has asserted that Virat Kohli must be lying if he says his “individual form doesn’t matter” in the blockbuster five-Test series, scheduled to commence on August 1 at Edgbaston.
"It doesn't matter if he gets runs or not? I think he is telling lies there," Anderson jokingly told PTI when asked about Kohli's statement.
At the start of the England tour, Kohli had stated that he aims to enjoy his time rather than thinking about his individual form as long as India wins.
Despite his awe-inspiring record all over the world, Virat hasn’t been able to perform at his best in red-ball cricket on English soil. With just 134 runs in five Test matches at a dismal average of 13.40, doing well in England is a top priority for the Indian captain.
"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," Anderson added.
During the 2014 England tour, Anderson was Kohli’s biggest nemesis, dismissing him 4 times in 10 innings. Overall, Anderson has taken Virat’s wicket five times in Tests going back to 2012.
However, Kohli turned the table during the 2016 Test series at home as he dominated Anderson and England by scoring 655 in 5 Tests at an average of 109.16.
"Today, cricketers learn from not only watching match footage but also from past experiences. So I would expect a batsman of Kohli's quality to have learnt from that last series here (in 2014). I am sure he (Kohli) 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," Anderson remarked.
Virat has looked in terrific touch in the ongoing England tour with the scores of 20*, 47, 43, 75, 45 and 71. When Anderson asked about Kohli’s form, Anderson replied, "It is a really difficult one to answer because you would think that the red ball swings more or does more off the seam. But it doesn't work like that.”
"A batsman like Virat plays 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. (But) sometimes when batsmen are trying to be more attacking in white-ball cricket than red ball, you might create more chances. Overall it is hard to say," he explained.
With AB de Villiers retired, Steve Smith coping a 12-month suspension and Kane Williamson enjoying some time off from cricket, there is a lot of anticipation concerning the showdown between two of world’s best batsmen – Virat Kohli and Joe Root. While the Indian captain is currently ranked at the second spot in ICC Test rankings for batsmen, the England skipper is placed at the third position.
Having bowled to all the aforementioned names, Anderson was asked to pick the best batsman in world cricket at the moment.
"Well I don't like bowling to any one of them to be honest. It is hard to pick one of them because they are all different in their own way. They have all got a lot of qualities. The thing that makes them stand out above other batsmen around the world is how they adapt to all different forms of the game,” Anderson opined.
"That's what's most impressive to not only be able to score 50 off 20 balls in a T20 but also get a 100 off 250 balls in a Test match. It takes a special batsman and special mentality to do that. So, I will sit on the fence and say these are the best batsmen in the world, and not pick one," he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)