For more than two decades, Sachin Tendulkar was the answer to everything Australia could throw at India. Virat Kohli is now slowly taking that place.
Weeks before Australia land in India for a four-Test series, Virat Kohli is again tipped to be their nightmare. Not just because he has been almost a run-machine in the last two years but also because Kohli brings to the side a killer attitude Australia were once famous for.
So how big a factor can Virat Kohli be this time around?
Let’s first get started with his Test record against Australia. In 12 Tests Kohli has played against Australia, he has scored 1,276 runs with six centuries and three half-centuries at an average of over 60.
The current list of most hundreds against Australia is topped by England’s Sir Jack Hobbs with 12 centuries from 41 Tests, followed by 11 centuries by Tendulkar in 39 Tests and nine by West Indians Richie Richardson (29 Tests) and Brian Lara (31 Tests) and England’s Wally Hammond (33 Tests) and David Gower (42 Tests).
Going by the rate Kohli has converted his fifties into hundreds, and given the fact he still has at least seven to eight years left in his career, the India captain may well end up top of the table.
But this is merely the statistical part of the story where Kohli is probably hardwired to plunder many runs against Australia.
Matured Virat Kohli
Mentally, Kohli could be far more scarring for Australia than they could ever envisage. If he scores well, India have a great chance of winning. But if he scores heavily, India will surely thrive. Add to that Kohli’s ability to turn the crowd on the opponents by egging them continuously.
It's a privilege to be awarded with Padmashree & to announce it on the 68th Republic Day made it even more special.https://t.co/n2YQoePEBs— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) January 27, 2017
When he doesn’t own the field with the bat, Virat Kohli works on how to extract the best out of his team and even the spectators.
This interestingly is the same person a heavily partisan Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) crowd had managed to prick by allegedly mouthing obscenities about his family during the 2011-12 tour.
Only 23 then, Kohli had responded by showing his middle finger. This was before he struck back with a fifty in Perth and a century in Adelaide. That was the first indication of what was coming for Australia.
Been there, done that
Many players have recounted how difficult is it to deal with the Australian summers in front of boorish crowds and hostile bowling. Few could cope with it. Kohli, though, has flourished.
Transformed physically and mentally, Virat Kohli returned to haunt Australia in 2014 with big centuries, including one that gave the hosts a big scare in Adelaide. He was stand-in captain then.
Now as full-time leader, Kohli has set the same exacting standards for the team that he has set for himself. India had won 4-0 against Australia under MS Dhoni in 2013.
Kohli would obviously want nothing less than that this time too. But at the same time, he is also capable of giving back some of the grief India have been subjected to on their tours Down Under. Virat Kohli has a broad bat and quite a mouth on him.
Expect the India captain to use both liberally when the Australians come touring.