West Indies fast bowler Kesrick Williams shed light on what transpired between him and Virat Kohli when West Indies toured India late last year. In 2017, Williams had dismissed Kohli and followed it with his trademark ‘notebook celebration,’ and the fast bowler admitted that he was surprised to know that even more than two years later, Kohli remembered it and was not going to let him forget.
It all began in the first T20I last year, where Kohli played a blinder of a knock and took India home in a stiff chase of 208. Williams narrated how an unintentional act on his part riled Kohli up, and the India captain never stopped from there onward.
“In the first game, when Kohli walked in to bat, he walked straight to me and he was like ‘Hey, you got me in Jamaica the last time you bowled against me, it’s not going to happen here’. I was like this thing happened in 2017, this is 2019, this guy really studied this thing? I was like I can’t believe this guy,” Williams told Firstpost.
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“So I bowled a ball, someone tucked it on to the leg side and I was running for the ball but he was running for a single and I almost butt on him so I stopped and let him pass, and then he looked at the umpire and was like ‘what’s going on?’, I am like mate, I am sorry I didn’t spitefully do it, I didn’t try to run into you. And from there he started. He started saying stuff that I really don’t want to repeat. He started saying all sorts (of things), I am like ‘Yo mate, can you just back (off)’. I was walking back and he was at the non-striker’s end and he’s like ‘This is not going to happen today, I am not going to make you get me out today, never, never you are going to get me out today’. I am like, ‘mate, can you just zip your mouth and bat? Just bat, just play the game and please leave me alone’. And he said some stuff.
“He finished the game and wrote me up in his notebook, I don’t know what notebook he had but he wrote me up in it and got on with his antics. He won the game, fair enough. When we left Hyderabad for Kerala, I was in the economy class and he was in the business class, he is looking back, watching me and smiling and he’s making a gesture. I am like ‘Yo, I’m going to dismiss you in the next game like for real’. I said, ‘the next game it’s going to be me and you’. Because I had him in my mind now. I am like you are not going to beat me again, never in cricket. This is not going to happen again.”
Williams further explained how Kohli once again tried to get under the fast bowler’s skin in the second T20I in Thiruvananthapuram, and this time without any form of provocation or accident. In the match, Williams got his man as West Indies came back strongly to beat India by eight wickets and level the series.
“In the second game, I was on the fine leg boundary and he’s sitting there, just staring at me and was like ‘Kesericcccc’. I mean obviously he beat me in the last game so he can do what he wants, he is on top…’Kesriccc’ (he went again), I am like I can’t wait for this guy to come and bat. A wicket falls and I am like I am really ready for this guy to come in because I want to get this guy out so badly tonight. I am confident enough that I will get him out,” Williams explained.
“When he came to bat, he didn’t say much to me. And I got him out. And I could remember he did a celebration in a Test series where he pinned his lip. And when I dismissed him, the whole crowd went silent and I just told the guys, ‘Relax, let’s keep it silent and let’s just applaud the legend and let him go off. It’s fine. He’s gone. Let him go’. I just pinned my lip and walked back. No celebrations for him. I don’t want to celebrate. Let him go.”
The banter or whatever you’d like to call it continued in the decider at Mumbai, with Kohli deciding to throw Williams off his game even before the match. The India captain won the third and final battle between the two, remaining unbeaten on 70 as the hosts clinched the series with a 67-run win. But it wasn’t without Kohli and Williams having another go at each other.
“The third game now, I am warming up. And the skipper (Pollard) was like, Kohli’s really staring at me there. And I’ll be honest, every ball I bowl, every step I make…He is warming up with his team and his eyes are fixed on me. He came into bat, I think I got Rohit, I did that (welcome) gesture and looked at him and said come. He looked at me and started chirping. I was confident then, I got him out in the last game. The first over went for 14. And the other three balls, I bowled to Rahul and they weren’t bad ones. And in my two middle overs before the last over, I got him (Kohli) tied down,” Williams said.
“He didn’t score a lot of runs off me, it was just singles. And then in the last over, I felt like I haven’t bowled much slower balls to him in this game, now I am going to try to get him out again with a couple of balls left of my last over. And he walked into it and flicked me over mid-wicket for a six. He looked at me and was acting like ‘Yo, I beat you again.’ I am like, dude, I went for 35 for two in the game (It was 1/37) and you hit one six off me and acting big and macho. And then Pollard was like ‘Yo, don’t give him that energy, leave him alone, go back’. I walked back and was like ‘Mate, try and beat me’. I am confident now. At that point when I went for 60 in that first game, he acted all sorts.
“I don’t have anything against him. It’s just banter. Because honestly, that guy is one of the best players in world cricket,” Williams signed off.