Amid Rishabh Pant’s stunning knock, Ravindra Jadeja‘s perfect Test innings, and Indian pace bowlers standing tall against England batters, it was Jonny Bairstow’s confrontation with star India batter Virat Kohli that drew the attention of the cricket world in the ongoing fifth and final Test between the two sides at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
The video of their brawl gained a lot of traction on social media. It highlighted the fact how Virat Kohli’s sledging fired up Jonny Bairstow who shifted gears to race through to his third consecutive hundred in as many matches in Test cricket.
It's tense out there between Virat Kohli and Jonny Bairstow 😳#ENGvIND pic.twitter.com/3lIZjERvDW
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 3, 2022
While Jonny Bairstow’s strike rate before the incident was 21, it took off to reach 150 after Virat Kohli mocked him on the field.
Nevertheless, when Jonny Bairstow was asked “Did Kohli poke the bear” at him by a reporter during a press conference, he gave an epic reply.
Don’t poke the Bear that is Johnny Bairstow again please……..
— Ian Raphael Bishop (@irbishi) July 3, 2022
“Did he poke the bear?” and he responded saying, “It’s a nice pun that in it”.
However, Jonny Bairstow brushed aside the speculation that there was animosity between the two players. Instead, the England batter joked to say that he “Refused to invite him for dinner.”
“As I mentioned earlier, there was literally nothing. We’ve been fortunate to play against each other for ten years. So, I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to have dinner. Don’t worry about it,” he added.
“We’ve played against each other for a solid ten years now. It’s a bit of craic. We’re fiercely competitive on the field and that’s what it’s about. We’re playing Test cricket and we’re two competitors. It brings the best out of us. Whatever it takes, you want to get your team over the line and that’s part and parcel of the game,” Jonny Bairstow pointed out.
Earlier, Virender Sehwag had trolled Virat Kohli for sledging Jonny Bairstow which fired up the England batter as he went on to score his third successive hundred in as many Tests during the weekend.
England were staring down the barrel at the end of Day 2 as the Indian fast bowlers reduced the hosts to 84/5, including the big wicket of in-form Joe Root.
The Indians continued to pile on the pressure at the start of Day 3 but Virat Kohli’s heated exchange with Jonny Bairstow stirred the England wicketkeeper batter as he went on to complete his fifth century of the year off only 119 balls.
Virender Sehwag claimed on social media that before Virat Kohli’s war of words with Jonny Bairstow, the England batter was batting like Cheteshwar Pujara but the former India captain’s sledging ignited the spark in him, and he began dominating the bowlers as Rishabh Pant did on Day 1, who smashed a whirlwind 146 off 111-balls.
“Jonny Bairstow’s Strike Rate before Kohli’s Sledging – 21. Post Sledging – 150. Pujara ki tarah khel rahe thhey, Kohli ne Pant banwa diya bewajah sledge karke (He was playing like Pujara, Kohli turned him into Pant after sledging him),” Virender Sehwag tweeted.
Jonny Bairstow's Strike Rate before Kohli's Sledging -: 21
Post Sledging – 150
Pujara ki tarah khel rahe thhey, Kohli ne Pant banwa diya bewajah sledge karke #IndvsEng
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) July 3, 2022
Before Virat Kohli walked up to him, Jonny Bairstow had made just 13 off 61 deliveries.
But after Virat Kohli’s provocation, his next 87 runs came off just 57 balls.
The Englishman went into overdrive – while he was earlier mistiming his strokes, Virat Kohli’s words fired him up.
Suddenly, Jonny Bairstow started gaining in confidence before unleashing his full repertoire of strokes – short-arm pulls, drives, lofted hits over the inner circle and the runs started to come at a rapid pace.
The England star who was the main hero of England’s 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand before this Test match looked menacing, especially after bringing up his fifty in the first session of play.
Notably, it took him 20 minutes to score his first run on Day 3. But an altercation with Virat Kohli was what he needed to get going.
Runs kept flowing from his bat in the second session as Jonny Bairstow coasted through to his third century in as many Tests before being sent back to the pavilion by Mohammed Shami for 106.
Virat Kohli was back in the thick of things because it was he who took Jonny Bairstow’s catch in the slips to provide India with the much-needed breakthrough. Virat Kohli was seen blowing kisses after the England batter’s departure.
Jonny Bairstow brought up his ton in 119 balls, which featured 14 fours and two huge sixes. It was the 32-year-old’s fifth hundred of the year.
Jonny Bairstow’s knock earned rich plaudits from ex-cricketers, including former England skipper Nasser Hussain who claimed that the wicketkeeper batter was in the “form of his life”.
“Jonny Bairstow is in the form of his life. He epitomises what McCullum and Stokes want, positive, but not reckless batting. There has been no reckless batting from Bairstow this summer, he has been brilliant,” Nasser Hussain stated.