James Anderson was pleased with the way he bowled against Virat Kohli on the second day of the first Test, despite the India captain going on to notch 149 to guide his side to within 13 runs of England’s first innings total.
The swing bowler also praised all-rounders Ben Stokes and Sam Curran, who enjoyed standout spells with the ball, but rued the drop catches in the cordon, which, if grabbed, could have taken the game away from India.
“It was a really exciting day all-round,” James Anderson told Sky Sports on the morning of the third day on Friday. “For me, bowling quite a long spell – 15 overs in the first 32 – was really exciting.”
Kohli was dismissed four times by Anderson during the 2014 Test series between the two, and he looked to be winning the battle during the early stages of Kohli’s innings on Thursday.
“Obviously, with the success I’ve had against Kohli in the past, I think Joe wanted me to keep going, and I felt like I was on top of him for quite a bit of that spell.
“The dropped catch was frustrating; I beat the bat a couple of times, got a couple of other edges that dropped short and I felt like I was on top and in good rhythm to get him out.”
Anderson praised India’s top six and revealed that his game plan doesn’t alter too much for each batsman – even Kohli, who batted out of his crease to try to nullify Anderson’s swing.
“Their top six is really strong, our plans are pretty similar to all of them,” he said. “I thought we bowled pretty well all day yesterday, maybe barring the first 10 overs.
“It wasn’t swinging too much, it was just doing enough. The pitch was doing a little bit, there was a touch of seam movement. So, I was just thinking ‘bowl the same ball every ball’ and for me that’s as simple as it gets and that’s when it’s easier as a bowler – all you’ve got to think about is putting the ball on that right spot.
“Early on I thought he was going really hard at the ball outside off stump, and I felt in the game. That’s why I just thought ‘keep doing the same thing’. I didn’t have to get too straight. He left a couple but then he’d go at a similar ball, so I thought ‘just hang in there around off stump and hopefully he’ll nick one in the end’.
“Ben Stokes came up to me and said ‘He’s batting out of his crease’ but for me that doesn’t actually change things a huge amount. You might think about dragging your length back a bit but, essentially, I’m just trying to hit that area around fourth stump. “Where he is on the crease might take out lbws but he’s still going hard at balls outside off-stump, which made me feel in the game.
“I tried the odd in-swinger but the breeze was going in the opposite direction. I felt like I was challenging the edge and I was in the game. I didn’t want to go chasing it and give him an easy four on the leg-side.”
England’s highest Test wicket-taker was buoyed by what he saw from his fellow fast bowlers during India’s first innings.
“When it started to move a little bit later on I thought we did really well,” he said. “Sam Curran did fantastically to take those quick three wickets and got us back into the game.”
“The way Ben bowled really reminded me of an Andrew Flintoff spell – good pace, challenging the outside edge, good theatre around it, and the atmosphere was brilliant to be a part of.”
England were left to rue a number of dropped catches, with Malan and Cook spilling three between them in the slips, one off the edge of the India skipper.
“That’s the nature of cricket,” said Anderson. “You put down chances like we did yesterday and it can cost you, and that’s something that we’ve worked really hard on, trying to improve out catching.
“The saying ‘catches win matches’ is so true and it could have been a very different story if that was held, but that’s the situation we’re in. After our first innings with the bat, if you’d have said we would get a lead, we would have been happy with that.”