King Kohli eyes glory in Aus­tralia

Gulf Times Sport - - CRICKET -

Vi­rat Kohli is at the top of his game but he must get his other bat­ters to per­form if he is to grab the crown­ing glory of In­dia’s first Test se­ries vic­tory in Aus­tralia.

Kohli, 30, has led In­dia’s bat­ting charge with ad­mirable con­sis­tency across all three for­mats as he tops the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil (ICC) rank­ings in Test and one-day in­ter­na­tion­als.

Dubbed “King Kohli” by the In­dian me­dia, the star bats­man and In­dia skip­per has ac­cu­mu­lated 1,063 runs in 18 Test in­nings this year, num­ber one ahead of Eng­land skip­per Joe Root (948 runs, 24 in­nings).

But as se­ries de­feats in South Africa and Eng­land this year showed, Kohli pil­ing on the runs will be no guar­an­tee of vic­tory when the four-Test se­ries starts to­mor­row in Ade­laide.

Kohli made 286 in three South Africa Tests but In­dia lost the se­ries 2-1 while the world’s top Test side went down to Eng­land 4-1 de­spite the cap­tain’s 593 runs in five matches.

“Apart from Kohli him­self no other bats­man is mak­ing runs. So one man’s show is not likely to win you a se­ries overseas,” vet­eran sports jour­nal­ist Ayaz Me­mon told AFP.

“Bar­ring the one at Lord’s (where In­dia lost by an in­nings and 159 runs) most of the matches that we have lost they ac­tu­ally have got them­selves in a win­ning po­si­tion and squan­dered it.

“Kohli’s chal­lenge is to get the best out of his bats­men and seize the win­ning mo­ments which In­dia has failed to latch on to,” he added.

Me­mon said that Aus­tralia are weak­ened by the ab­sence of top stars Steve Smith and David Warner, but that may also make Kohli’s task harder.

“With Smith and Warner not be­ing there the pres­sure of win­ning will be that much more on Kohli. If you can’t beat an Aus­tralia with­out Smith and Warner then who you will beat?” Me­mon told AFP.

“So this is his op­por­tu­nity, be­cause the next cy­cle of overseas matches will come af­ter a cou­ple of years and who knows what hap­pens in that much time,” he said.

In­dia started the key Aus­tralia tour with a loss in the first Twenty20 on Novem­ber 21 but went on to level the three-match se­ries af­ter the sec­ond game was rained off and they won the fi­nal match.

But it is the five-day for­mat that Kohli and In­dia are look­ing to con­quer, with In­dia never hav­ing won a se­ries in Aus­tralia in more than 70 years of try­ing.

In­dia’s dis­mal record Down Un­der, which started with a crushing se­ries loss to Don Brad­man’s side in 1948, is just five wins in 44 Tests.

Kohli is con­fi­dent that now is the time to buck the that trend.

“Look­ing at how much ex­pe­ri­ence we have gained in the four years since we have last been here, and how the team has played, we def­i­nitely feel we have what it takes to win Test matches away from home,” he said in an in­ter­view with Mac­quarie Ra­dio.

“And, hope­fully, this time around, a full se­ries,” said Kohli, who re­cently be­came the fastest to reach 10,000 runs in ODIs, sur­pass­ing In­dia leg­end and for­mer cap­tain Sachin Ten­dulkar.

How­ever Aus­tralia bats­man Travis Head is con­fi­dent the pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Ha­zle­wood and Pat Cum­mins will keep Kohli in check.

Kohli led his team’s bat­ting in the 2014 se­ries in Aus­tralia, amass­ing 692 runs in four matches de­spite In­dia los­ing 2-0.

“Hope­fully the boys get him un­der con­trol,” said Head. “We know he’s a good player, I’ve seen it first-hand at Ben­galuru. He’s an ex­tremely good player, but I think we’ve got the bowlers to do the job.

“They’re one of the best bowl­ing units in the world. It’s go­ing to be an ex­cit­ing bat­tle, hope­fully we’ll come out on top,” he added.

In­dia cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli.

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