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Kohli mixes grit, brilliance to play starring role for India

August 2, 2018
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Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, front, and England's Ben Stokes wave their hands during the second day of the first test cricket match between England and India at Edgbaston in Birmingham, England, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Virat Kohli rode his luck before delivering a batting exhibition in a brilliant innings of 149 to keep India in sight of England on a gripping second day of the first test at Edgbaston on Thursday.

The India captain made England pay dearly for dropped catches when on 21 and 51, blazing to his 22nd test century — and first in England — to end a sorry run of scores on English soil. In fact, his total beat the combined scores in his 10 previous innings in England from India’s five-test tour in 2014.

After he was the last man out with about 30 minutes left of the day, Kohli was given a standing ovation around Edgbaston, with England fans also showing their appreciation of one of cricket’s box-office talents. Kohli opened his shoulders late in his knock and finished with a total of 22 fours and a six off his penultimate ball as he successfully hogged the strike to demonstrate his excellent game management.

Thanks to Kohli, India was eventually dismissed for 274 — for a first-innings deficit of 13 runs — having been 59-3, 100-5 and 169-7 at various stages.

England, which started the day by adding just two runs to its overnight 285-9, ended it by closing on 9-1 in its second innings after offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin bowled Alastair Cook for 0, in a virtual repeat of the opener’s first-innings dismissal.

The hosts led by 22 runs with nine second-innings wickets remaining heading into the third day.

England swing bowler Sam Curran took three wickets in eight balls before lunch — removing Murali Vijay (20), Lokesh Rahul (4) and Shikhar Dhawan (26) — to reduce India to 59-3, before the tourists were given a testing first hour of the afternoon session against a ball that swung around.

Two more Indian batsmen departed, with Ben Stokes taking the wickets of Ajinkya Rahane (15) and Dinesh Karthik (0) in consecutive overs, but Kohli just about survived. He was dropped by Dawid Malan at first slip on 21, edged three times short of fielders behind the wicket, then glanced another edge through the right hand of the diving Malan when on 51.

In going past 39, he’d already bettered his top score from the 2014 tour and soon England was on the defensive, spreading the field. Kohli proceeded to dominate the bowling with a variety of shots to the boundary.

As he steadily ran out of partners, Kolhi managed to keep the strike in what proved to be a memorable 225-ball knock before being caught by Stuart Broad off Adil Rashid.

Cook’s dismissal brought about stumps, with Keaton Jennings 5 not out.

England will hope Jos Buttler will be able to bat on Friday after he went to the hospital during the lunch interval for an X-ray on his left middle finger, which he injured while fielding. The X-ray showed there was no break and Buttler recovered sufficiently to return to field.

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