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‘That’s not like you, giving me freebies!’ – Anderson on Kohli rivalry

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

England bowler James Anderson has labelled his rivalry with Virat Kohli as “fiercely competitive” following the pair’s thrilling battle at Edgbaston.

Kohli, now ranked the No.1 Test batsman in the world, scored 149 and 51 during India’s first Test defeat to England. However, the India captain was involved in a tense period during the start of his first innings as Anderson drew him into several false strokes.

“There’s a fiercely competitive rivalry between myself and Virat Kohli — but also enormous mutual respect,” Anderson wrote in The Sun.

Virat Kohli reaching his century in the first Test between England and India at Edgbaston

“Kohli is ranked the world’s No 1 Test batsman after scoring 200 runs in the first Test and I’m the top-ranked bowler. I guess that’s top-of-the-range stuff and I certainly loved the battle with him at Edgbaston.

“I felt good bowling to Virat and my plans worked well. I might have dismissed him a few times with some plays and misses, plus a dropped catch. I’ve been told only 17 of his 149 runs in the first innings came off my bowling.”

Despite the rivalry, which is set to continue for the rest of this compelling series, Anderson, who has 544 Test wickets to his name, emphasised the mutual respect that was evident at Edgbaston.

“The game was played in a good spirit and there’s a lot of respect both ways between myself and Virat,” he affirmed. “There was the odd smile when I bowled a good ball and the odd smile from him.”

“I gave him a couple of freebies on his legs that he clipped for four and he said something like ‘That’s not like you, giving me freebies!’ It was teasing, really, leg-pulling. All in good spirit.”

The second Test starts on Thursday at Lord’s. England have made two changes to their squad, with Chris Woakes and Ollie Pope coming in for Ben Stokes, who is in court this week, and Dawid Malan.

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