India close in after Kohli's epic double-hundred

England 400 and 182 for 6 (Root 77, Bairstow 50*) trail India 631 (Kohli 235, Vijay 136, Jayant 104) by 49 runs
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With his sublime 235 off 340 balls, with 25 fours and a six, Virat Kohli became the first Indian to three double-centuries in a year. As soon as he left the crease and England were in to bat the pitch began to look like a minefield.

The visitors were trailing by 49 runs at stumps and had only four wickets in hand to mount a challenge. Their plight – especially after scoring 400 in the first innings – was largely due to one man. And it was to see that man bat that people thronged to Wankhede stadium.

Kohli broke a slew of records. The most runs by an Indian in a series against England – Rahul Dravid was left behind. The most runs in an innings by an India captain – MS Dhoni was left behind. In 2016, he has made 1200 runs at an average of 80 and a strike-rate of 60.

A crunching straight drive in the first over of the day converted his fourth successive hundred into a 150-plus score. In the 162nd, he only rolled his wrists on a straight delivery, but it skipped away to the backward square leg boundary. The timing was such that it beat England’s best fielder Ben Stokes, and the placement was such that it was well to the right of the man.

Kohli batted for over eight hours. The concentration it must have taken, the mental and physical strain he must have felt to play an innings of such quality on a difficult pitch was finally on view as he walked off for lunch with a tired smile on his face. In the dressing room, everyone from the support staff to his team-mates patted him on the back. When he came out in the second session, he biffed Chris Woakes back over his head for a six and ran like mad for a single next ball.

The shot the fans cared about most came a little earlier. A gentle little flick off the fourth ball of the 165th over, all along the ground, to the left of midwicket. It raised Kohli’s 200. Smart phones were out to record the moment. Anil Kumble’s camera didn’t miss it either. A little slice of history to put in the back pocket. In all of Test cricket, only five men have made three or more double-hundreds in a year. Don Bradman, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Brendon McCullum and now Kohli.

England’s response to that innings came from Joe Root. If it hadn’t been for his firebrand style of play England may never have reduced their deficit to 49 at stumps. Root made 77 off only 103 balls against two of the best spinners in the world on a surface that had become rank. Considering it had waited 312 overs to do so should make it immune to criticism. Besides, it’s pace was true. That meant batsmen picking length early and looking to score first and defend second would flourish. Root exemplified those characteristics well as he swept the spinners hard and stepped down the track often to take balls on the full and paste them through the covers. India were forced to pull the close catchers out and Root inside edged Ashwin to short leg when there was no one there.

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Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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