Virat Kohli vs Jonny Bairstow started on the evening of day 2. Bairstow, who starred in two great chases against New Zealand with fiery knocks, was playing within himself. Some good old tuk-tuk cricket. On air, Graeme Swann would say, “Bairstow is looking a shadow of the player who was blasting everything against New Zealand. It’s a different quality attack here.”
On the field, Kohli would start chirping. At one point, in the crossover of the overs, he shouted out, “A bit faster than Southee, eh?”. At the end of the second day’s play Kohli had walked away, with his hands over Bairstow’s shoulder and he was laughing away at some time.
Day 3 began with Bairstow adopting similar conservatism as day 2. Kohli began to find his voice again. Bairstow found his lungs too. Both went verbally against each other. Bairstow signalling with his gloved fingers about how Kohli was yapping away. Kohli put his finger on his mouth, and gestured him to bat. Bairstow gestured him to go back to field. At the other end, stood England’s captain Ben Stokes with a gentle smile creasing his face.
Jonny B this summer 🔥
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 3, 2022
The umpires got into the act. Both players nodded and got back to cricket. Bairstow began to attempt to attack. Couple of iffy drives followed, bat missing the ball by a big margin. Two hacks, basically.
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 3, 2022
In the slips, Kohli started to guffaw. He threw his head back, started to tell everyone who cared to listen how much Bairstow was missing the ball.
At the end of the over, the umpires got into the act again. More talks. At the end of which, Kohli was seen laughing and landing a friendly jab at Bairstow.
That was the moment things began to turn England’s way. Bairstow kept up his aggression and the ball began to disappear over fielders’ heads. Stokes rushed down the track and mistimed a heave high towards cover but Shardul Thakur spilled it. Bairstow kept playing his shots – short-arm pulls, drives, lofted hits and the runs began to flow. At one point, the camera zoomed to Kohli, who was staring either at the scoreboard or at the giant screen.
Not long after, Bairstow reached his fifty, punched gloves with Stokes, showed his bat to his dressing room, and looked up to the skies, eyes shut. It had taken him 20 minutes to score his first run. And post his interaction with Kohli, he began to flow away.