Virat Kohli has a wonderful record in Australia, having scored five centuries and averaging over 60. In the last series in 2014/15, Kohli scored four centuries, including a ton in both innings in the Adelaide Test and was involved in a verbal battle with the likes of Mitchell Johnson, especially during the Melbourne Test. Heading into the four-Test series starting on December 6, Tim Paine, the Australian cricket team skipper has said the players will have to choose their moments wisely while trying to have a go at Kohli. Paine said the more players try to sledge Kohli, the better he becomes as a batsman.
“He's certainly someone who, from what I've seen, enjoys getting into that sort of stuff," Paine said of Kohli. We'll just play it by ear; if there's a time when we think we need to have a word with him, I'm sure we will. It's just about picking your time and picking your moment and doing what the team requires,” Paine said to cricket.com.au.
The comments come at a time when Australia’s on-field behavior is undergoing a transition in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town which resulted in year-long bans for Steve Smith and David Warner. Coach Justin Langer has also stressed on the importance of not only being competitive on field but also be elite in values. A usually combative Kohli has also made it clear that he will not be the one to start any on-field confrontation with the Australians during the series.
Paine said it was not necessary to go after him every time. “I think it's important that guys play the way that suits them. If you're someone who likes to get into a contest one-on-one with someone like Virat, then go for your life. But I don't think it needs to be over the top and I don't think guys who aren't normally like that need to start doing it. If there are other times when we feel like we're bowling well against him and are troubling him, then you don't have to do it,” the Australian skipper said.
The right-hander, who took over as the skipper in the Johannesburg Test, has not achieved success in the three Tests he has been part of. However, he believes that the team’s pace attack, in the form of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Starc can trouble the Indian batsmen. In addition to Nathan Lyon, Paine believes they can trouble Kohli.
Head banks on tips
While the Australian bowling looks strong, the batting needs a lot of work in the absence of Smith and Warner. Travis Head, who batted impressively in the Test series against Pakistan, is banking on tips from Harry Nielsen to help him combat the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin. The left-handed Nielsen scored a century for Cricket Australia XI in their warm-up game against India and Head is banking on his tips to ensure he does not struggle against the offspinner.
“I faced Ashwin a couple times in IPL before this, so don't have much experience of playing him in Test cricket. But we have batsmen who can play spin well. Look, it is not just about one spinner. If we play six right-handers, they will play Ravindra Jadeja who is another good bowler. I think it will be a good contest,” Head said.