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Virat Kohli and Australia: When love and hate collide

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on November 20, 2020
Aussie quick Pat Cummins hopes that they can keep Virat Kohli quiet. (AFP)

One can be assured that once Kohli leads his brave new India into the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) next Friday, there won’t be any shortage of intent and aggression

He’s a man they love to hate, but yet love. So much so that former Australian captain, the great Allan Border, said in jest that if Virat Kohli had his baby Down Under, they could claim his offspring as Australian.

Border may have said that in humour but that could be the biggest compliment yet that the Indian skipper may have received so far in his career.

It goes without saying that the Aussies love a contest, that heat of a battle. That has been the Australian way for ages and nothing gets pumped this sporting nation than going toe to toe against a worthy opponent.

And there are none more worthy than Kohli.

He may have mellowed down a little as the years have gone by and the brashness of youth may have given way to a more mature outlook with those rounded glasses. And behind that 11-tattooed exterior is a normal man like any other, and soon to be a father.

Yet, one can be assured that once Kohli leads his brave new India into the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) next Friday, there won’t be any shortage of intent and aggression.

And perhaps, that’s also what the Australians — their team and their public — like about him. In their eyes, he is maybe as Australian as they come and while they might hate him at times, there would be those secretly admiring glances.

To quote Mahatma Gandhi: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” This isn’t war, but it will feel like one when India engage the hosts in a full bouquet tour comprising three ODIs, three T20Is and four Tests.

And Kohli’s standing among the Australians can be gauged from the fact that tickets for the ODI and T20 segment were sold out. With Kohli set to most likely feature in only the first Test, the day-night pink-ball affair at Adelaide, before returning home on paternity leave, that tells the story.

And as has been the case, the banter has already begun even before a ball is bowled. The Aussies are famous for their verbal volleys, mental disintegration, notoriously made famous by Steve Waugh and his ‘Invincibles.’

And Ricky Ponting, who succeeded him, fired the opening shot by reckoning that India will be muddled in their thoughts once Kohli leaves their shores.

“India will feel that without Kohli there (for three Tests), for his batting and leadership, that’ll put all sorts of pressure on different players,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

“You’d think (Ajinkya) Rahane will take over the captaincy, which will put extra pressure on him, and they’ve got to find someone to bat at that really important No.4 spot.

“I don’t think they’ll be clear in their own mind, even now, what their batting order will look like for the first Test. Who’s going to open, who’ll bat at four when Kohli goes?” the 45-year-old added.

Ponting, who coached the Delhi Capitals to a runners-up finish in the just concluded IPL, also asked questions about India’s bowling attack.

“The questions that are being asked around Australia with Pucovski and Green, I think India have got a few more questions to answer. Shami, Jasprit Bumrah will it be Ishant, will it be Umesh Yadav, will it be a young guy like Saini or Siraj? They’ve got a lot of questions to ask as well. And which spinner? They’ve got a few spinners in their squad and they’ve got to figure out which one to pick for the pink-ball game in Adelaide,” Ponting said.

Meanwhile, Aussie quick Pat Cummins hoped that they can keep Kohli quiet.

“He is always a big one. You commentators talk about him non-stop, so hopefully, we can keep him quiet,” Cummins told Fox Cricket.

The Australians won’t be short on motivation as India had won their first Test series on their last visit here in 2018-19.

This should be a cracker.

james@khaleejtimes.com





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