Former England spinner Graeme Swann feels that all-rounder Ben Stokes won the battle today against Virat Kohli after they have been going after each other in the ongoing series. Swann also added that given the role that Stokes plays for the team, one has got to take their hat off for him.
Ben Stokes and Virat Kohli have been involved in a war of words in the ongoing series. Pretty much like the 2016 Test series in India when the two fiery cricketers didn't mind exchanging words in the middle. On day one of the ongoing Test, Virat Kohli took on Stokes verbally after he was sledging Mohammed Siraj. This was not the first time though when they were involved in a verbal spat as that has been the case even earlier in the series.
Today, with Virat Kohli out in the middle to bat and Ben Stokes having the ball in hand, they had a more direct battle. And it was the Englishman who got the better of the Indian skipper and that too before he could even open his account. And this wasn't the first time Stokes got Kohli out as even in the first Test, he had bamboozled him. Former England spinner Graeme Swann reckoned that it was Stokes who emerged as the winner in the battle between the two today.
"He (Kohli) is world class, we all know that. On this wicket, it is very difficult to start. More so against spin bowlers because of the amount it can turn and bounce. You are not expecting an absolute floater like that (from fast bowler Ben Stokes)," Swann said, reported HT.
"We know when Kohli is starting his innings, he looks to score early, he likes to get on the board. So, he just chased the ball. But if you are not as good as Virat Kohli, you probably do not nick the ball. Because it was that much in the slot, he was probably too late on it. So very well done, Ben Stokes. There were a few words said between them so Stokes has probably won that battle today. Just an absolute beauty," he added.
Swann also asserted that England got themselves into a strong position by dismissing Kohli early or else, India could have been 130/2 than 30/2. He also added that Stokes has been under a lot of pressure in this game given he's one of the two fast bowlers playing in the Test for England.
"It is always nice to have a player of this stature in your back pocket. Twice in this series, he would be happy with that. More from a team perspective, when you go from 30/2 with Virat Kohli walking into bat, you would think if we do not get him out early it could probably be 130/2 by Lunch. They had got him out early, and put themselves in a strong position.
"When you are playing as all-rounder, you expect to come on as 2nd change. Bowl 15 overs in a day, get a little swing in the day, you might pick an odd wicket here and there. But a lot of pressure has been put on Stokes in this game. James Anderson is the only out-and-out fast bowler in the team. And the ball has swung."
Swann also lauded Stokes for the fact that, despite the weather being punishing, the all-rounder toiled hard for the side.
"If the ball was not swinging, then the ball would be given to spinners and let them bowl all day. Ben Stokes would get 5-6 overs in the day here or there to help the skipper out, maybe get a wicket. But the fact that the ball was swinging, England have looked after the ball well. Means Stokes plays a much bigger role. He is a bit under the weather from all accounts as well, and to be out in this heat, all credit to him. This is hard work. He is a fast bowler as well. You gotta take your hats off for him for what he has done so far," Swann signed off.