IPL 2022: How Moeen Ali has Virat Kohli’s number

Moeen Ali has clean bowled Virat Kohli in the past, even in Tests with his big-turning loopy off breaks. Kohli has tried to cover drive on stretched front foot and has been bowled once in a Test in Chennai. This time around, since the ball had been turning decently on the Pune surface, Kohli tried to wrist it with the turn to the on side. But he missed it completely. It spun in sharp from outside off stump to go through the bat-pad-gap and disturb the furniture. Moeen pumped his fist and Kohli had one of those rueful looks at the pitch as he walked away. He had tried to cut a delivery outside off that had gone on straight and was beaten. Then one spun sharply past his pads for a wide. The pitch was helping turn and as soon as Moeen got his line right by starting it from outside off stump, he got his man from him.

Just before his own dismissal, he had also been involved in a run out of Glenn Maxwell. And going by the events, it wasn’t a surprise. Faf du Plessis had already told him to communicate better and be more clear in his calls from him after a couple of close runs. Though he had survived, what du Plessis feared might happen, occurred to Maxwell. Virat Kohli’s iffy calling did him in. He had pushed to the left of covers and set off in a rush but suddenly paused. His doubt he was valid as Maxwell could n’t rush across in time and was run out well short.

Last year during the India vs England Test series, Chepauk witnessed Moeen vs Kohli face off. There the England offie had kept the cover region vacant, bowled a tossed-up delivery outside off and induced Virat Kohli to play a cover drive, his bread-and-butter shot. The ball drifted away, turned sharply after pitching and went through the gate to hit the top of off-stump. The India captain was flummoxed to the extent of disbelief. He stood there for a long time despite being out bowled. Even the on-field umpires went for a referral. But there was no doubt whatsoever. Kohli fell into the trap and was out for a duck.

Kohli came out to bat wearing a cap, not a helmet. On air, former India batsman Subramaniam Badrinath mentioned that Kohli wearing a cap meant he was unlikely to sweep. Playing the sweep on such an up-and-down pitch is fraught with danger. The batsman runs the risk of being hit in the face off a top edge. England captain Joe Root loaded the legside with fielders, which minimized run-scoring opportunities in that area, playing with the turn. For Kohli, arguably possessing the best cover drive in the business, the vacant off-side spot was too big a temptation to resist.

Virat Kohli was out to a turning ball. (Source: iplt20.com)

The dismissal in the Chennai Test had brought back memories of Michael Vaughan’s off-break to Sachin Tendulkar at Trent Bridge in 2002. Vaughan was only a part-time spinner, but produced a moment of magic against the master batsman – the ball pitching in the rough and breaking back sharply to sneak through between bat and pad and hit the off-stump. Tendulkar, batting on 92 then, looked stunned. “Getting an Indian legend bowled through the gate isn’t that difficult as an off spinner !!!” Vaughan tweeted after Kohli’s dismissal on Saturday.


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