Back in December, Australian captain Steve Smith had said that they would be looking to get under Kohli’s skin, which he thought would make India vulnerable. But ‘Sledging Virat Kohli can hurt you,’ that’s Michael Hussey’s message loud and clears to the Australian cricket team ahead of its four-Test tour of India.
Virat Kohli will be Australia’s “public enemy number one” during the upcoming Test series against India, according to former batsman Michael Hussey but he has advised Steve Smith and not to sledge him as it would bring the best out of the Indian captain. “From an Australian point of view, Kohli is public enemy No.1 and we have to get him out cheaply. I wouldn’t try and fire him (Kohli) up. I think he thrives on that and he’s a real competitor. He loves being in the fight and loves the contest out in the middle,” Hussey was quoted as saying.
He said that Australia need a clear strategy to keep Virat Kohli in check and refrain from getting into verbal confrontations with the India captain. “I wouldn’t try and fire him up. I think he thrives on that and he’s a real competitor. He loves being in the fight and loves the contest out in the middle. I’d make sure we have some very clear plans and we try and stick to them as best as we possibly can. There’s no need to get involved in that sort of verbal barrage because I think that fires him up even more. You don’t want to get carried away with too much talk and lose your concentration of what’s important, which is executing your skills,” said Hussey, who retired in 2013 after scoring 6235 runs from 79 Tests.
Under leading batsman Kohli, India are unbeaten in their last 18 tests, registering series wins in Sri Lanka and West Indies, while thumping South Africa, New Zealand and England at home. The captain’s form has been key to India’s rise to number one in the test rankings, with the 28-year-old scoring three double hundreds and averaging almost 76 in tests in 2016.
He said the result of the series will not be decided by which team is more verbal but on the basis of better execution of plans with more consistency. “There’s no need to get involved in that sort of verbal barrage because I think that fires him up even more. You don’t want to get carried away with too much talk and lose your concentration of what’s important, which is executing your skills. The team that wins will be the one that can execute their skills at the highest quality and for the longest period of time.” He added, “It’s not going to be the team that’s the most verbal or the most aggressive.”
Kohli has been a target of sledging by Australia in the past and it indeed got the best out of the Indian run-machine. Ever since Kohli, a brash, temperamental Kohli at the time, showed the middle finger to the Aussie crowd on the tour of 2011-12, he became a subject of sledging by the Australian players. Kohli showed that he won’t take that lying down as he punched his first Test hundred on Aussie soil in Adelaide in 2012. Surely the Australians have learnt their lessons the hard way by now. This time it’s going to be tougher as Kohli is the full time captain of the hungry Indian team.
Hussey said, “Kohli is very confident at the moment, he knows the conditions so well and generally if he plays well, India win. And it’s similar with Australia — Steve Smith and David Warner are the two most important batsmen in the Australian line-up and if they score runs, generally Australia go well. If they don’t, the other batsmen are under enormous pressure. I’m sure India will be looking at Steve Smith as the key man they want to get out.”