Even before the start of the gruelling five-match Test series between India and England, the rivalry between James Anderson and Virat Kohli took centre stage. Anderson, who is England's all-time leading wicket-taker in Tests, was Kohli's tormentor-in-chief when India last toured England in 2014, dismissing him four times in six innings. But that was Kohli of 2014!
In the last four years, the 29-year-old India captain has established his name as one of the world's top batsmen, scoring runs in Australia, South Africa, West Indies, and of course, in the sub-continent.
True to his nature, Kohli started off the rivalry in his own aggressive fashion, hammering over 200 runs in the first Test in Birmingham. His first innings score of 149 alone eclipsed the total runs (134) he scored in five Tests during the tour of 2014. It wouldn't be inappropriate to say that despite India losing the first Test by 31 runs, Kohli has surely won the first round of battle against Anderson.
The Birmingham Test was a guide to what all one can expect in the remainder of the matches, and all eyes would be when an experienced English veteran takes on a combative and determined Kohli.
Ahead of the second Test at Lord's, the English pacer opened up on his fierce yet respectful rivalry with the Indian captain after the hosts took a 1-0 lead in the five-match rubber.
The visitors largely had Kohli to thank as his century (1st innings) and half-century (2nd innings) gave India a fighting chance, however, once Kohli departed, the remainder of the batsmen followed on as England won the Birmingham Test by 31 runs.
"There's a fiercely competitive rivalry between myself and Virat Kohli — but also enormous mutual respect," Anderson wrote in The Sun.
"Kohli is ranked the world’s No 1 Test batsman after scoring 200 runs in the first Test and I’m the top-ranked bowler.
"I guess that’s top-of-the-range stuff and I certainly loved the battle with him at Edgbaston."
Anderson wrote that he felt 'good' bowling to the Indian skipper and said that he had his number once during the match at Edgbaston. The tailsman was proud of the fact that Kohli hit only 17 runs against Anderson, 17 out of the 149 he made in the first innings.
"I felt good bowling to Virat and my plans worked well. I might have dismissed him a few times with some plays and misses plus a dropped catch. I’ve been told only 17 of his 149 runs in the first innings came off my bowling."
The India-England rivalry goes a long way back, from Flintoff's wild celebration in India to Ganguly's shirtless moment at Lord's, the mic drop and the response to that, the encounters between the two nations is more than just pride at stake.
However, Anderson believes that there's a lot of respect between him and Kohli.
"The game was played in a good spirit and there’s a lot of respect both ways between myself and Virat. There was the odd smile when I bowled a good ball and the odd smile from him," he added.
The duo did enjoy a few banter between deliveries and with four more Test matches to go, the series gets compelling.
A point that Anderson noted, was when he gave Kohli a couple of 'freebies' during the clash, the batsman eventually knew that it was on purpose.
"I gave him a couple of freebies on his legs that he clipped for four and he said something like ‘That’s not like you, giving me freebies!’ It was teasing, really, leg-pulling. All in good spirit."
As England take a 1-0 lead in the five-match rubber, India have to sort out their batting dilemmas as they face the Three Lions next at Lord's.
The Joe Root-led side has made two changes to their squad for the 2nd Test as Chris Woakes comes in place of Ben Stokes and Surrey's Ollie Pope fills in for Dawid Malan.