Bairstow plays down verbal duel with Kohli

Jonny Bairstow
Jonny Bairstow en route to his sparkling ton. Photo: AFP/Geoff Caddick

Birmingham: Star England batter Jonny Bairstow has played down the heated verbal exchange he had with senior India player Virat Kohli during the third day of the rescheduled fifth Test, saying it was part and parcel of the game.

During the morning session on Sunday, Kohli had something to say to Bairstow about his 'play and miss' game but the England batter wasn't someone to take it lightly. At one point, the umpires had to intervene to cool down tempers.

"Nah, there was literally nothing to it," Bairstow, who hit 106 off 140 balls, said when asked about the heated exchange with Kohli.

"We've played against each other for a solid 10 years now. It's a bit of craic (having good time, enjoyable social activity). 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."

After that altercation, Bairstow started chancing his arms and played a lot of lofted shots over mid-off and clipped a few towards the mid-wicket boundary.

Asked at the press conference after the third day's play if Kohli was "poking the bear", Bairstow replied, "It's a nice pun that in it, really.

"We've been fortunate to play against each other for over 10 years now. So, we have had some battles on the field.

"I am pretty sure we will be able to have dinner. Don't worry about that," said Bairstow.

Bairstow's century was the cornerstone of England's 284 in reply to India's 416, a first innings deficit of 132 runs for the hosts. India were 125/3 at stumps on day three, extending their overall lead to 257 runs.

England are facing the prospect of a daunting fourth-innings target but Bairstow said "whatever we're set, we'll try and chase."

He also talked about the challenge of facing India's new ball pair of Mohammed Shami and stand-in skipper Jasprit Bumrah, who were able to bowl almost unchanged through the first 30 overs of the innings.

"They bowled very well. The ball was swinging and it was just about trying to shift that momentum back. Trying to manipulate the field into places you're able to score. But you're also going to have to take a couple of risks."

Asked whether technical improvements had driven his extraordinary run of form, Bairstow replied, "Got no idea." 

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