Virat Kohli withstood England’s bowlers to score a fine 149 and keep India in the game on an enthralling second day in the first Test at Edgbaston.
England were bowled out for 287 before reducing India to 50-3 and 100-5.
Sam Curran took 4-74 and James Anderson and Ben Stokes bowled superbly for two wickets apiece, but captain Kohli dragged India back into the game.
India made 274 before England lost Alastair Cook to the day’s final ball as they closed on 9-1 – a lead of 22.
Cook’s dismissal – bowled again by a fine delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin – leaves the game in the balance.
England will be left to rue their missed chances: they dropped two catches and allowed India’s last two wickets to add 92.
Kohli was put down on 21 and 51 by Dawid Malan but he mixed patience with late aggression to reach his first century in England.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan told BBC Test Match Special: “Alastair Cook will be gutted to get out, but the man whose head will be down in England’s dressing room is Dawid Malan.
“It was an easy drop with Kohli on 21. And now the India captain has confidence.”
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Kohli proves a point
Kohli’s last trip to England was not a success. He finished the 2014 tour with an average of 13.40 and was undone by Anderson, who dismissed him four times in 10 innings.
This time, however, feels different. His huge celebration when he ran out England captain Joe Root on the opening day was a sign of how determined he is to succeed in these conditions.
It was not an easy start for Kohli. He still struggled to read which way Anderson was swinging the ball and the pace bowler found the edge of his bat four times.
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After Malan put down a tough one-handed chance at second slip, Kohli settled then targeted Curran, first clipping him through mid-wicket then angling him down to third man.
On 97, Stokes dropped short and Kohli leaned back to punch the ball through point for four, before letting out a loud roar in celebration.
He removed his wedding ring from around his neck and kissed it – a nod to his wife, Anushka, who was blamed for his poor form in 2014 – before he took the attack to England.
His last-wicket stand of 57 with Umesh Yadav – of which the number 11 contributed only one run – was full of clean hitting from Kohli, who launched Rashid over long-on for six before finally falling as he slapped the leg-spinner to Stuart Broad at point.
Booed by the crowd when he came out to bat, Kohli left to applause from the England fielders and fans alike.
Vaughan said: “The great players love the biggest stage. Kohli thought, “You’re going to boo me? OK, I’ll stick around.'”
Second only to Bradman – Kohli in numbers
- Kohli scored more in this innings than in the entire 2014 series in England, when he made 134 runs in 10 innings
- He has now scored 15 Test centuries as captain, bettered only by South Africa’s Graeme Smith (22) and Australia’s Ricky Ponting (19)
- He has now scored a Test century in every Test-playing country except Bangladesh
- He has made 22 Test centuries and 16 fifties; only Australia’s Sir Donald Bradman has a better conversion rate, with 29 centuries and 13 fifties
England seamers excel in captivating afternoon session
Kohli’s superb shepherding of the tail took some of the gloss off what was an otherwise impressive performance from the England attack, particularly during a thrilling afternoon session.
India remained on 100 for 21 balls during an engrossing passage of play that saw:
- 27.4 overs: Ajinkya Rahane, on 15, fiddles at a rising short ball from Stokes and edges to Keaton Jennings at third slip
- 29.2 overs: Stokes uproots Dinesh Karthik’s middle stump to claim his 100th Test wicket
- 29.6 overs: Hardik Pandya is lbw to Stokes but a review shows that the delivery would have missed leg stump
- 30.6 overs: A subdued Kohli, on 21, is squared up by Anderson and edges to second slip, where Malan drops a simple chance
- 31.1 overs: Stokes finds the edge of Pandya on nought and Cook drops a sitter at first slip
“It was about as good a spell of seam bowling from James Anderson and Ben Stokes after lunch as you’ll ever see,” said Vaughan.
Ex-England spinner Phil Tufnell said: “I would put that up there in my top five sessions of Test cricket.”
The wickets were ultimately shared around – something that will please England, who have often been reliant on Anderson and Broad.
Anderson was rewarded for his efforts with 2-41 while Adil Rashid, brought on to bowl at the tail, trapped Ishant Sharma lbw before dismissing Kohli to finish for 2-31.
Earlier, Jos Buttler was taken to hospital after injuring his left middle finger attempting to take an extremely tough chance off Kohli at gully, but an X-ray revealed it was bruised rather than broken.
Stokes Curran show their worth
Curran, in only his second Test, bowled intelligently to disrupt India’s top order and expose their weaknesses in these conditions.
He claimed three wickets in eight balls as he found some movement. Murali Vijay was trapped lbw on review for 20, KL Rahul played a loose drive and was bowled via an inside edge for four, and Shikhar Dhawan was caught at second slip for 26.
Stokes, introduced after lunch, showed why he is such an important part of this England side with an aggressive spell.
India were unable to get him away – he conceded only four leg byes in a five-over spell – while Anderson helped apply pressure at the other end.
Anderson bowled tidily in the morning but did not break through until late on, when he bowled Ashwin and had Mohammed Shami edging a drive to Malan.
However, England dropped too short when trying to dismiss a set Kohli, and their tactics of giving him easy singles when in partnership with number 10 Ishant and Umesh backfired.
Curran told TMS: “The day had pretty much everything – wickets, runs, good periods, frustrating periods.
“We still bowled them out below our total so that’s a huge positive.”