Joe Root felt bound to give credit where it is due to the “exceptional” Virat Kohli but also urged England to put missed opportunities behind them as they try to stay in the Test series against India.
Kohli’s unbeaten 147 helped India into a 51-run lead, on 451 for seven, after day three of the fourth Test - and also took his personal series aggregate well past 500.
Root admitted some frustration after one “marginal half-chance” had evaded Adil Rashid, when Kohli had 68, and he himself then put down Jayant Yadav in the evening session at the Wankhede Stadium.
But he was at pains too to voice an opponent’s admiration for Kohli’s performance, alongside fellow centurion Murali Vijay (136), as each hit his second hundred of the series so far.
“The number of runs Kohli’s scored this series, if you take them away it’s a completely different series,” said England’s vice-captain.
“He played exceptionally well today. You’ve got to take your hat off sometimes, and just accept it.”
If Rashid could have clung on to the fierce drive back at him, India’s collapse would have gone from 262 for two to 315 for seven.
It was not to be, though, Ravindra Jadeja and then Jayant - in an unbroken stand of 87 - helping Kohli augment his and Murali’s century partnership.
Root was not about to apportion blame to his fellow Yorkshireman.
“That’s a very difficult catch,” he said.
“It’s coming at you that pace; you’re following through - it’s on before you know it. Those either stick or they don’t, so you can’t put blame on Rash for that.
“It’s a marginal half-chance at best.”
Kohli’s innings was a fine example not just of his world-class ability but his force of personality too, as his team bid to convert their unassailable 2-0 lead into outright series victory here.
“He’s obviously very driven, and ambitious,” added Root.
“You can see that in the way he approaches the game, very emotional.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve.”
The India captain’s on-pitch persona is fine by Root.
“I wouldn’t say it’s intimidating, or anything like that, it’s quite good to play against guys who express how they feel, and try to make you feel uncomfortable,” he said.
“For me personally, it gets me going - and you want to get in that competitive mode where you’re going to perform at your best.”
He congratulated both Kohli and Murali on their hundreds.
“They got a good balance between defence and being aggressive, they deserve the scores they got,” he said.
“Those (missed) half-chances are bitterly disappointing - but it’s all about tomorrow now.
“After that middle session, the way we got ourselves into a pretty good position, it was quite frustrating we couldn’t take the wickets at the back-end there.
“It just proves that when you create those half-chances, you’ve got to make sure you take them.
“(But) it’d be silly now to look back at today and think ‘What a chance has slipped through our grasp’.”
England must instead focus on redoubling their efforts.
“The most important thing is we look forward, to tomorrow, and we take those three early wickets when we get those opportunities,” added Root.
“Then, when it comes to batting, we look to put pressure back on them and be positive - just like we were in the first innings.
“If we can do that well, we’ ve got a really good game on our hands.”
Root took two wickets in four balls with his part-time off-spin, a bowling change he attributed to Cook even though the captain was briefly off the field at the time.
“It was initiated by Cooky before we left the field - so I can’t take any credit for that,” he said.
“It always seems to work that way - the lads put some really hard yards in all day, and you come an bowl some filthy part-timers and sneak a couple of wickets.”
It threatened to be a telling intervention, until Kohli took over again - leaving Murali to agree at close of play that India are in control of this match.
“Oh, definitely yes,” he said.
“Any lead is gold on this wicket.
“During tea, we just thought ‘get close to the target’. But the way Virat and Jayant are batting, we are in a pretty good position.”
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