Virat Kohli and Chetehwar Pujara will have to play influential roles if India are to beat England in the four-match Test series and qualify for the ICC World Test Championship Final. Both failed to hit an international century last year despite getting past 50 on occasions. Kohli’s only 50+ score in Test matches last year came in the first Test against Australia while Pujara crossed the fifty run mark four times but neither managed to get to a Test hundred last year. Both will eye centuries and plenty of runs at home against England and also stand with an opportunity to break a Sunil Gavaskar record. India Likely Playing XI for 1st Test vs England: Probable Indian Cricket Team Line-up for Series Opener in Chennai.
Kohli’s last century in Test matches came against Bangladesh at Kolkata in the pink-ball Test in 2019 while Pujara last scored a Test hundred when India toured Australia in 2018-19. A 193 in Sydney in the final Test was the last time Pujara reached three figures in Test cricket. Since then, both Kohli and Pujara have gone quiet in the longest format despite having a combined 45 Test centuries between them. Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri, Sourav Ganguly Express Gratitude and Thank PM Narendra Modi for ‘Kind Words’ on Mann Ki Baat.
Both had a good series when England last toured India in 2016. Kohli scored 655 runs at an average of 110 in that series while Pujara also contributed with 401 runs. Both the senior cricketers will hope for another good series against the fourth-ranked Test team. Kohli needs 488 runs to break a long-standing Sunil Gavaskar record of most runs by an Indian batsman in home Test matches against England. Pujara needs 492 runs to overtake the original Little Master.
Gavaskar, who scored 1331 runs in 22 Test matches against England at home, leads the chart for most runs scored against England at home Test matches for India. He is closely followed by Gundappa Viswanath, who has 1022 runs in 17 Tests. Sachin Tendulkar (960 runs in 15 Tests), Vijay Manjrekar (885 runs in 11 Tests) and ML Jaisimha (843 runs in 10 Tests) complete the top five in the elite list of Indian batsmen with most runs in home Test matches against England.
Kohli and Pujara though can surpass them all with a standout series against England, which begins with the opening Test in Chennai from February 5. Kohli has so far scored 843 runs in nine Test matches against England at home while Pujara has 839 runs from the same number of Test matches. Kohli is already tied with Jaisimha on fifth. Both the current Indian cricketers can jump higher in the list or can even surpass Gavaskar with a fabulous series against England.
Both Kohli and Pujara are expected to be part of the Indian playing XI for the opening Test match against England, which starts from February 5 in Chennai. A good Test series will also propel both batsmen higher in the ICC Test batting rankings. Kohli is ranked fourth in the Test batting chart while Pujara jumped to sixth after his exploits in Australia.
(The above story first appeared on Reportr Door on Feb 01, 2021 04:37 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website reportrdoor.com).