When the Indian team step onto the pitch at Birmingham on August 1, they'd be hoping to move on from the past and look towards changing it. In the previous two tours of England, India have lost both the test series, that too convincingly. In 2011, they were hammered and ripped apart 4-0 in the four-match series. The 2014 tour showed signs of improvement as the visitors drew the first Test, before winning the second. But it was a false alarm, as the hosts battled back to win the series 3-1.
This time around, India are coming on the back of a positive run. At home, they have been imperious and unbeatable. And when they went to South Africa earlier this year, no one gave them a chance. Well, they did end up losing the three match series 2-1, but gave the hosts a run for their money in what was an inspiring display. The England series provides India with their best chance to show their dominance away from home. And well, this particular series will hold extra significance for none other than Virat Kohli.
In 2014, Kohli was a free wicket to England. Their bowlers, led by James Anderson swung the ball, and bowled a fourth stump line. The Indian skipper had no answers for their brilliant bowling, amassing a mere 134 runs from 10 innings at an average of 13.40, failing to score even one half-century. Yes, this was Kohli's stats from that series.
On the other hand, a certain 23-year-old called Joe Root was scoring runs, match after match. He was only 17 Tests old before the series, but showed immense maturity on his way to becoming the leading run-getter with 518 runs from seven innings at an average of 103,60, which included two centuries and three half-centuries.
There was no doubt who was the star back then. But that was 2014! Now, four years later, things have changed.
Every second cricket fan would term Kohli as the best batsman in the world at the present time. Less than a handful of years after his biggest struggle of his career, the Indian skipper dominates the world cricket. There is hardly anything that is out of his reach in the current form. You bowl it on his pads, he'd whack you away on the leg side. If the ball is pitched up, he'd hit straight back past the bowler. When there is a juicy half volley on the offside, his famous cover drive comes to effect. And lastly, if the ball is swinging away from him, he'd just leave it.
The Indian skipper has made sure that if he had any weakness, he's gotten rid of it. One could see how much better he was against swinging ball in the Test series against South Africa. When every batsman was struggling against Vernon Philander, the Indian skipper stood tall and scored runs. That was the very reason why he finished as the highest run-getter of the series.
With 5554 runs in 66 matches, his average of 53.40 stands amongst the best in the business. But then, he is gonna come up against a player very similar to him.
Root hasn't stopped from his 2014 success, and has developed into one of the best batsmen in the game. Just like his Indian counterpart, Root has assumed the responsibility of leading England, though, only in Tests.
His record in this format speak volumes about why he is considered as the 'golden boy' of English cricket. After 69 matches, he has 5960 runs at an average of 52.28. But his ability is much more than just numbers.
The England Test skipper is considered as a natural player, who is effortless in his game. His success as a skipper may be very limited, given England's struggle in the longer format, but his own batting has never let him down.
A true sign of his greateness was at show when he toured India in 2016. Many of the English batters struggled, but there was Root, who scored runs in every Test match. Those conditions were alien to him, yet he got runs.
The truth is, nothing can be enough to describe the talent these two cricketers have. In 2014, they faced each other as just batsmen. Though this time, they face off in a dual role. Well, there is no doubt Kohli has been the better skipper amongst the two. But given the previous memories, Root has the edge over Kohli in batting.