Expect Virat Kohli to banish 2014 Test demons and Joe Root to fire in what should be a thrilling series

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Virat Kohli had a troubled series in England in 2014.

Disappointments and setbacks can often be the making of a player.

He may not of thought so at the time, but Virat Kohli‘s first and last Test tour of England back in 2014 was a game-changer.

The Indian batsman scored 134 runs, across 10 innings over five Tests, at a paltry average of 13.50. Not once did he last more than 75 balls at the crease.

Caught behind often in the slip cordon and static at the crease with a lack of foot movement, Kohli’s technique was severely tested as James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett and Moeen Ali all dismissed him during that series in which the hosts won 3-1.

Kohli had endured infrequent runs of low scores before, like any batsman, but this was what he described as the first “setback” of his career.

Though, interestingly, one he was “thankful” for and allowed him to become a “really improved cricketer”. It wasn’t as if an already world-class batsman had great strides to make but this learning curve was an important milestone for Kohli.

Captaincy, in all formats, and runs, runs and runs have followed for the game’s most notable player.

Water under the bridge, and plenty of it, has passed since 2014 and there is no doubt Kohli is a near-complete player ahead of the start of the five-match Test series against England, beginning at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

For however good he is, the 29-year-old knows he needs a series of note to settle a few scores with those who have doubted him and his record in England.

Expect him to do just that, he is too good a player not to prosper.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 03: Virat Kohli of India batting during the 1st Vitality International T20 match between England and India at Emirates Old Trafford on July 3, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Virat Kohli is in form in England without scoring big, big…yet.

With the eyes of a billion people and more transfixed on Kohli over the second-half of the English summer, his opposite No3, and skipper, Joe Root has the chance to put his stamp on things but almost under the radar.

In what is a period of adversity and challenging times for Test cricket amid the start of next year’s Test Championship to keep the sport’s oldest and most prestigious format alive, we should relish the prospect of a big marquee series such as this with two big nations, and two of the world’s best batsmen at the peak of their powers.

Should England fail to get off to a flying start, the pressure will build on Root. The Yorkshireman has lost six out of his last eight Tests as skipper and knows the onus on this series is huge and a crucial building block ahead of next year’s Ashes series on home soil.

Root, who is two years younger than Kohli at 27, is different in many ways to that of the Indian icon. While Root’s one-day international career continues to be significant, unlike Kohli, he hasn’t been able to reinvent himself as a T20 cricketer and has missed out on lucrative opportunities as a result, such as the IPL.

But, in the Test arena, and in English conditions, it is more a of a level-playing field and both batsmen have the ability to wrestle the momentum of a five-day contest into their team’s favour.

Root is on the cusp of 6,000 runs having played 69 Tests, averaging 52.28, while the Delhi-born star is already India’s highest-scoring captain and has a haul of 5,554 runs from less outings, 65 Tests, at an equally impressive and better 53.40.

Kohli, at number two in the ICC Test Batting rankings and Root at three, trail Australia’s ball-tampering scarred former captain Steve Smith in top spot. But, if either player has a strong series, they can push the Aussie for the summit and also jostle for position in the average stakes, too.

Personal milestones and head-to-head rivalries should never dominate the agenda in one of the most respected team sports, but individual efforts of course will be crucial over the next five weeks.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: England batsman Joe Root cover drives a ball towards the boundary during day one of the second Test Match between England and Pakistan at Headingley on June 1, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

England will need Joe Root to score big batting at three.

In the same series in which Kohli struggled four years ago, Root was named the Man of the Series after scoring 518 runs at an average of 103.60 in seven innings. Like his star-studded counterpart, he has evolved as an all-round player since then but experienced his own ups and downs – far more than Kohli.

Root’s struggles over failing to convert Test fifties into three figures have been widely documented. He has been able to go on and score a ton after reaching fifty in just 25 per cent of those innings while Kohli has been pushing 60 per cent for most of his career.

The Englishman has the capability to change that during this series and Root only needs to look at how ruthless Kohli is at the backend of an innings.

Root enters the Tests after scoring just 25 runs in two innings during Yorkshire’s Roses clash with Lancashire, but he did hit back to back one-day international tons before that. Kohli, on the other hand, has yet to score a century on this tour of the UK in any format, but looks in fine fettle.

It is set up for a memorable series.

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India's Virat Kohli ranked ninth among sportsmen in 2018 Instagram Rich List

Sudhir Gupta 26/07/2018
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Virat Kohli is the only cricketer to feature on the list for 2018.

Virat Kohli continues to make waves on social media with the India cricket team skipper finding himself among the top 10 sportsmen in the 2018 Instagram Rich List released by Hopper HQ on Wednesday.

The Indian cricket superstar is featured 17th overall in the list for 2018, which measures the monetary value of a single Instagram post. The Hopper HQ list takes into consideration the amount of followers, per post engagement and the frequency of posts to arrive at its conclusion.

Kohli is the only cricketer to feature in the top 75 people on the list which is headed by celebrity Kylie Jenner who rakes in approximately $1 million per post on her Instagram. In comparison, the India star’s per post monetary value is estimated at $120,000.

Among sports athletes, Portuguese football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is the leader with a per Instagram post value of $750,000 while Brazil’s Neymar and Argentina’s Lionel Messi are in the second and third position respectively.

Neymar is estimated to draw in $600,000 per post while Messi makes about $500,000 approximately.

England’s David Beckham, Real Madrid star Gareth Bale, Barcelona’s Luiz Suarez, LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and MMA stalwart Conor McGregor are the other sports athletes who feature ahead of Kohli on the list.

Kohli is ranked ahead of NBA's Stephen Curry in the list.

Kohli is ranked ahead of NBA’s Stephen Curry in the list.

Kohli’s value is pegged to be higher than NBA star Stephan Curry of the Golden State Warriors and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather who are featured in 18th and 19th spots respectively in the overall list.

The 29-year-old India batsman has a follower count of 23.2 million currently on Instagram.

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Watch India captain Virat Kohli's incredible 'Kohlicopter' six in Bristol T20

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The spotlight is on India captain Virat Kohli as he looks to put the failure of his last Test tour of England behind him. He took his first steps towards that goal by putting in a fine batting performance in the three-match T20 series which the men in blue won in Bristol on Sunday.

Kohli scored 20 not out, 47 and 43 to help India beat England and his last knock was particularly impressive as it helped India chase down 199.

One shot during his 29-ball 43 stood out for its audacity and artistry. Facing pacer Liam Plunkett in the 14th over of the chase, Kohli went inside-out over extra cover to deposit the pacer over the boundary ropes with a flourish reminiscent of MS Dhoni’s ‘helicopter shot’.

That shot from Kohli brought the hashtag ‘Kohlicopter’ back on the social media radar. The term originally became prominent in 2014.

Watch Kohli’s shot below and compare it to MS Dhoni’s ‘helicopter’ shot.

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