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England's fans bowled over by Virat Kohli

India Today logo India Today 30-11-2016

Indian fans love Virat Kohli. They adore him. That is beyond doubt and we'll established.

But how does the opposition see him? Captains spend time plotting his dismissal and bowlers consider him among the most prized scalp in international cricket. If you are Ben Stokes, you even try and rile him up. Kohli at 28, is feared and revered in equal measure.

How do the English fans feel about the man who has been their nemesis this tour? After the disaster of 2014, Kohli has so far amassed over 400 at an average of over 100. Not only does he score runs, he leads his team with panache and ensures that England's cricketers get it back as good as they get.

Stokes for one, has a history of bad behaviour. He earned the ire of the ICC in England's series against Bangladesh and if that was not enough, he even tried to take on Kohli. After his antics following his first innings dismissal, Stokes carried on with the "silent treatment" after removing Kohli during a crucial passage on the second day.

Not surprisingly, Kohli repaid the compliments when Stokes fell cheaply again in England's second dig.

Unlike Stokes, Kohli is on his way to becoming a statesman. The Indian Test captain has mellowed down a lot and is well respected by his own players and several others the world over. His gesture towards Haseeb Hameed after the teenager's gutsy knock on Monday, won him a few more fans in the English camp.

A touring member of the Barmy Army summed it up perfectly: "Before coming to India we knew Kohli was in dangerous form.

He has been scoring runs everywhere and against everyone and we also knew he was the last player our boys should sledge.

"Stokes did just that. The lad's a terrific player but he does ##@# things in the middle. You can't get away by riling Virat up in these parts now, can you?"

No you can't. Everytime Stokes was sent to patrol the boundary in the deep, he copped some verbal assault from the crowd. And all that the feared Barmy Army could do was smile and shake their heads.

Up against Kohli in India, even they wouldn't dare defend their own lads.

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