Cap­tain Kohli tak­ing noth­ing for granted against Aus­tralia

‘I per­son­ally don’t think any Aus­tralian side is vul­ner­a­ble at home’

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

Su­per­star skip­per Virat Kohli yes­ter­day played down sug­ges­tions Aus­tralia are vul­ner­a­ble after the ball-tam­per­ing scan­dal, as his In­dia side try to win a se­ries Down Un­der for the first time.

Aus­tralia be­gin the open­ing Test in a scorch­ing Ade­laide to­day on a run of poor form and with­out bat­ting pow­er­houses Steve Smith and David Warner, who re­main banned.

With­out them, In­dia could have a golden op­por­tu­nity to break their se­ries drought. But dan­ger­man Kohli — who elec­tri­fied view­ers with vi­ral footage of a pre-Test bat­ting ex­hi­bi­tion in the nets — said he was tak­ing noth­ing for granted.

“I per­son­ally don’t think any Aus­tralian side is vul­ner­a­ble at home,” he said at his pre-match press con­fer­ence, where a 12-man squad was named that in­cluded a re­call for vet­eran opener Mu­rali Vi­jay.

“You can­not take any side for granted. What­ever hap­pened, the skill level is still there. How­ever much you talk or be­have, it’s your skill that counts. They still have the skill to dom­i­nate at home. We’re not tak­ing any­thing for granted.”

Much will de­pend on how Kohli, who has ac­cu­mu­lated 1,063 runs in 18 Test in­nings this year, per­forms on a ground he ad­mits is his favourite away from home. “I love com­ing to this ground, the city in gen­eral,” he said.

“That’s not to say that per­for­mances are al­ways guar­an­teed in a cer­tain place, but at Ade­laide I feel dif­fer­ent from many other places.”

If his ag­gres­sive net ses­sion on Tues­day is any­thing to go by, Aus­tralia’s bowlers will have their work cut out. “Wow,” was all former Aus­tralian wick­et­keeper Adam Gilchrist could muster after watch­ing him in ac­tion, while ex-Eng­land skip­per Michael Vaughan tweeted: “I get the sense he is in the mood!”

Vi­jay, who was dropped fol­low­ing a pair in the sec­ond Test against Eng­land this year, won back his place after promis­ing young opener Prithvi Shaw was ruled out after suf­fer­ing an­kle lig­a­ment dam­age in a warm-up game.

In­dia opted to hold back the nam­ing of their fi­nal XI un­til the morn­ing of the Test as they mull whether to play all-rounder Hanuma Vi­hari or hard-hit­ting bat­ter Ro­hit Sharma. Ishant Sharma, Mo­hamed Shami and Jasprit Bum­rah will lead their pace at­tack — ranked among the coun­try’s strong­est ever — along with off­spin­ner Ravi Ash­win. Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar and Umesh Ya­dav missed out.

“The guys (bowlers) feel that they are at the peak of their skill lev­els at the mo­ment and they are look­ing for­ward to this chal­lenge,” said Kohli. “The bowlers are of the mind­set that what­ever the con­di­tions or how­ever hard it might be, they are just look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing.”

But the world’s num­ber one Test side are only too aware that away from home, their form is frag­ile.

They went down 2-1 in South Africa and then 4-1 in Eng­land this year. While the bowlers are in a great space, Kohli has so of­ten car­ried the team and he urged char­ac­ter from his fel­low bats­men.

“If the bats­men ap­ply them­selves it can be a great place to bat,” he said of Ade­laide. “But it takes char­ac­ter. And I think the Aus­tralia team has great skills, es­pe­cially their bowlers are re­ally strong. We need to step up as a bat­ting group, we un­der­stand that. There just needs to be a col­lec­tive per­for­mance (bowlers and bat­ters) on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.”


In­dia’s cap­tain Virat Kohli speaks dur­ing a press con­fer­ence ahead of the first Test against Aus­tralia in Ade­laide yes­ter­day.

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