Cricket is the ultimate game of sliding doors.
A key moment arrives – and whatever the outcome of that moment can take you off on two completely different timelines.
Take for example Thursday at Edgbaston – 15:35.
A surprisingly lively Ben Stokes steams in with India teetering at 152 for six in the 47th over.
Virat Kohli, the Indian captain and the tourists last recognised batsman, is on 51, bringing up his half century the ball before with a glide down to third man.
Stokes pitches well-wide of off stump but Kohli surprisingly takes a dab at it. There is no feet movement and he’s too far away from the ball.
The ball flies off the edge and to the right of Dawid Malan at second slip.
Malan dives and sticks out his hand but the ball bursts through his fingers.
Stokes drops to his haunches – a wry smile on his face. It is as if he realises the significance of the moment.
Three hours and 32 minutes later Kohli is finally out, his score is now 149 and India are all out for 274, just 13 runs behind England’s first innings total.
Of course if the catch is taken the situation is vastly different.
Instead of being 274 when Kohli was out, India would have been 152 for seven, and rather than a deficit of 13 they would in all probability of been facing one in excess of 100.
The narrative of the match also changes drastically.
Rather than the stories the next day being about the great Kohli saving India and ridding the memories of his horror tour of 2014, they would have been about him playing a stupid shot at a crucial time and putting his team in an even bigger hole.
Comments would have also been made about his fool hardy “mic drop” mimicking of Joe Root on the opening day and the harsher critics would have begun to ponder if he was indeed the right man to lead India.
But because the catch is dropped and he goes on to make 149 all that is put down to Virat being Virat and all part of the inimitable style that is “VK”.
In truth it was a streaky innings. Once India were reduced to eight down Kohli, completely correctly, decided to chance his arm, batting more like a T20 game than a Test match.
It took him 136 balls to make his first 74 runs, just 89 to make the next 75.
The drop catch also affected the start of England’s second innings.
Rather than coming in with a lead of 100 in the middle of the afternoon, Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings came in with just four tricky overs to bat to stumps, trying to build on a negligible lead of just over 10.
India had all the momentum, England all the pressure and that pressure told when the evergreen Ravichandran Ashwin got one to dip on middle stump, drawing Cook forward, and the ball zipped past his outside edge to hit off stump for the second time in the Test.
The dismissal could not have been more identical to the first innings. A half-hearted forward prod with the bat angled playing for the one that slides on. This one, like in the first innings, didn’t.
But again this only happens because 33 overs earlier Malan drops Kohli.
As the great William Shakespeare once wrote: “There are many events in the womb of time that will be delivered.”
But each delivered event sets in course a whole sequence of further events that drastically changes the outlook of any sporting contest – especially a five day Test match.
Malan’s dropped catch was not the only on the day – involving either Kohli or Malan.
The hapless England fielder also dropped Kohli off James Anderson a short time earlier and Cook also put down Hardik Pandya at first slip off Stokes.
In the end those chances cost England 100 runs and it could be those 100 runs that decide this Test match and set up the narrative for the rest of the series.
Morning, Alex Broun here with everything you need to know this Friday.
Love him or hate him its hard to ignore Virat Kohli.
The Indian captain has dominated proceedings on the first two days of the opening Test between India and England at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
From his mimicking of Joe Root’s “mic-drop” celebration on Wednesday to his magnificent match-saving 149 on Thursday the spotlight has been exactly where Kohli wants it to be – firmly trained on him.
For a full rundown on events in Edgbaston click HERE.
With rumours floating around that the 32-year-old Croatian is being tempted away from the Santiago Bernabéu by ambitious Inter Milan, Perez has responded by slapping a €750 million. (Dh3.2bn) price tag on his head.
To read more from the animated Sr. Perez click HERE.
Virat Kohli‘s brilliant century certainly grabbed the headlines on Thursday but in all the Kohli-mania the contribution of young England seamer Sam Curran should not be forgotten.
The twenty-year-old took three wickets in eight balls at one stage on his way to figures of 74 for 4 on the day, to easily be the pick of England’s bowler.
To read Curran’s thoughts on the day click HERE.
FEATURE OF THE DAY
What do you get the man who has everything?
Legendary New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady turns 41 today and Sport 360’s resident US sports guru Jay Asser got a little creative and came up with 10 novel gift ideas for the great man.
Check them out HERE.
SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP
.@imVkohli in Test cricket:— Circle of Cricket (@circleofcricket) August 2, 2018
Hundred in India: ✔️
Hundred in Australia: ✔️
Hundred in New Zealand: ✔️
Hundred in Sri Lanka: ✔️
Hundred in South Africa: ✔️
Hundred in West Indies: ✔️
Hundred in England: ✔️
KING KOHLI FOR A REASON #ENGvIND pic.twitter.com/PqXHmJ3Cat
GUESS THE THUMBNAIL SAYS IT ALL and I'll get you there inside a minute. Gonna be a belter in CChurch. #SuperRugby #cruvlio @foxrugbylive @sumostevenson @crusadersrugby @lionsrugbyco @RugbyDump pic.twitter.com/ASzA6C6TXO— Sean Maloney (@seanny202) August 3, 2018
I'm sorry...— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 2, 2018
HOW MUCH did you say this Real Madrid player is worth??? $870 million??? At 32 years old??? https://t.co/SXEUTskZWL
WHAT’S ON TODAY
England v India (14:00)
Wallabies vs Australian Super Rugby XV (12:45)
Virat Kohli didn’t have to wait long to silence his critics as the Indian captain scored his maiden Test hundred in England.
A lot of build-up to the five-match Test series was on how the 29-year-old would fare following a disappointing tour in 2014 where he averaged 13.40 in five Tests. But he made an instant impact, scoring 149 off 225 deliveries including 22 fours as India reached 274 in reply to England’s 287 on Thursday.
It was a masterclass of an innings from one of cricket’s icons although he was lucky to reach triple figures after being dropped twice on 21 and 51 by Dawid Malan at Edgbaston.
Here, we analyse his performance from the second day in Birmingham.
Before a ball was even bowled, plenty of focus was on Virat Kohli’s battle with James Anderson, who, after dismissing him four times in 2014, upped the ante in the war of words earlier this week. But on Thursday, Kohli let his bat do the talking in style and showed why he is the second best batsman in the Test rankings. The Indian captain might have been fortunate to be dropped twice on 21 and 51 by Dawid Malan but played a superb knock to get his milestone and most importantly saw India close in on England’s first inning score.
Most consecutive conversions from 90s to 100 in Tests for India— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) August 2, 2018
17 Virat Kohli (2014-2018)*
16 Sunil Gavaskar (1978-1983)
14 Azharuddin (1984-1994)#NervesOfSteel
Came to the crease with the scoreboard reading at 54-2 and led by example as he bossed the innings. Had a plan to deal with the bowling threat of Anderson as well as Ben Stokes, Sam Curran and Stuart Broad as he got big strides forward to counter any swing that came his way. Was given two lifelines when dropped by Malan but that did not allow him to lose his focus and kept the scoreboard ticking even when wickets were falling.
With a score of 149, there’s not much that can be faulted of Kohli’s innings. The only blip came when he was dropped twice but he made sure there was no third chance as he went from strength to strength.
VERDICT – 9 out of 10
Kohli showed once again why he is the best batsman in the world with a sensational innings. Although he was unable to remain unbeaten, the standing ovation he received from the Edgbaston crowd when he was dismissed spoke volumes how special his knock was. It could have been so different had Malan got one of those catches but the captain has put his side in a strong position in the Test match. This knock should give him a lot of confidence going forward for the rest of the series.