Bowling notes: Jadeja, Chahal rediscover form; Kohli shakes off rust by rolling arm over

As the death overs of the Hong Kong batting approached, tedium crept into the stadium. The result seemed a foregone conclusion—Hong Kong required eighty four from 24 balls, they were dawdling to a crushing defeat. Many of the spectators had begun to trickle out of the stadium, without waiting for the celebrations, which anyway was minimal.

Then they all stopped, turned back to their seats and fixed their distracted gazes into the man they are never tired of seeing. Virat Kohli, without any hint, was measuring his run-up and shadow bowling. Though he did use to bowl a fair bit in his U-19 days and the early phase of his career, he has rarely turned his arm over in the last decade. The last time he bowled in a T20 game was against the West Indies at Wankhede in the 2016 T20 World Cup.

The last time he ever bowled in an international game was during the Christchurch Test in 2020.

But he had the crowd on their feet, chanting his name as broke into his busy run-up, hustled in, jumped then leapt. arched his back a bit and released the ball. For someone who had bowled in a long time, rarely in the nets too for that matter, it was a decent ball.

It landed on good length, after wobbling a bit in air, and seamed back into the batsmen, who neatly worked for a single. The next ball was a tad short and duly pulled. The sequence of the next three balls was as follows: 1, 0, 1, 1.

That’s five runs off five runs.Job well done so far, as both Kinchit Shah and Zeeshan Ali were throwing the kitchen sink at every ball, as though they still had hope, as though they still wanted to reach as close to the target as possible.

After every ball he had bowled, the crowd would stand and applaud him. Once, he reciprocated with a thumbs up too. A wicket off his last ball would have been the perfect end to their night, but it eluded Kohli.

In another three overs the match meandered to the already arrived conclusion. And the night ended happily, except for Hong Kong, Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh. Avesh had endured a torrid night, his first three overs conceding 32 runs. Perhaps, he could salvage some respect with a flurry of wickets. Instead, he ended up bleeding 21 runs, with Scott McKechnie blasting his last three balls for a pair of fours and a six, after Ali had pummelled him for a six off the first ball. Arshdeep Singh too ended up on the expensive side—4-0-44-1. In comparison, Kolhi’s 1-0-6-0 looks like a golden effort.

Though Arshdeep and Avesh were expensive, the rest were exemplary. Bhuvneshwar was his usual self, exhibiting his craft and guiles. Woefully unfortunate to have not picked a wicket in his first spell, he deceived Shah with a sumptuous slower ball.

The inexperienced Hong Kong batsmen were clueless when he slipped in his many slower balls. But the biggest uptick from the game, from India’s perspective, was the spinners. Both Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal had not enjoyed their best outing with the ball against Pakistan.

Jadeja had been usually inaccurate, unusually erring on the shorter side of furnishing too much width. But here, he restored the old traits, varied the pace beautifully and turned out to be the run-choker in the middle overs that he is touted as.

Chahal too displayed signs of revival, as he bowled with better control than he had against Pakistan.

He was flat and quick against them, but here he struck the ideal pace, purchased turn and a bit of inward drift too. It was important that India’s spinners too are in fine fettle, as they could wield more influence as the tournament progresses and pitch becomes drier.

Perhaps, they have rediscovered the part-time bowler in Kohli too.

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