Without Virat Kohli, do India have a chance to retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy?(Getty Images)
Without Virat Kohli, do India have a chance to retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy?(Getty Images)

A Test-ing time for India, sans Virat Kohli

Kohli’s absence improves Australia’s chances of avenging their home series defeat. He will lead India in three ODIs, three Twenty20 internationals and the first Test before heading home.
By Sanjjeev K Samyal | Mumbai
UPDATED ON NOV 14, 2020 08:00 AM IST

An India-Australia Test series Down Under with no Virat Kohli is a bit like El Clasico without Lionel Messi. In what is now, arguably, cricket’s most compelling rivalry, Kohli is the central protagonist, the man around who the contest pivots. It’s not just that the Indian captain loves to play in Australia--he has scored more Test runs there than in any other country outside India--but because, over the years, he has made it clear that beating Australia in Tests is a kind of personal touchstone for him as captain. In 2018, he led India to their first Test series win in Australia.

Also Read | ‘The best player I’ve seen in my life’: Australia coach Justin Langer in awe of star India batsman

While Cheteshwar Pujara is the batting rock and Jasprit Bumrah the pace spearhead of this side, Kohli is the multi-dimensional force who takes on all opponents on all fronts–be it with his batting, leadership, energy levels or in-your-face aggression.

Kohli and his actor-wife Anushka Sharma are expecting their first child in January, and the captain is set to return home after the opening Test in Adelaide ends on December 21. Given that he would have to quarantine again for 14 days if he were to head back to Australia after the birth, it appears certain that he will miss the final three Tests in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Also Read | Autumn IPL adds spring to India ahead for Australia

“It (his absence) will be a big factor, no question about it. He is one of the best in the world,” said former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar.

The Australians love to hate him but he remains the one opponent they want their troops to do battle with. They see a bit of the Aussie cricketer in him; in his no-holds-barred winning drive.

In a video conference with reporters on Friday, Australia coach Justin Langer said Kohli’s absence will be a huge factor. “Virat Kohli is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons, not only batting but his energy and passion for the game, the way he fields,” Langer said. “I cannot believe he displays the energy he does in everything he does and I’ve got so much respect for him. I’ve also got respect for him in the sense that he’s made this decision (to return for the birth),” the former Australia opener added.

Also Read | ‘He is the best player in the world:’ Nathan Lyon says Australia won’t let guard down in Virat Kohli’s absence

As Langer points out, the reason for Kohli’s absence is unimpeachable, but what is also certain is that India depends heavily on the captain to win in Tests, especially outside India.

Kohli’s love affair with Australia started in early 2012 when he got his maiden Test hundred at Adelaide. It immediately proved to be the turning point in his career, after a shaky six months since his Test debut. His next tour Down Under, in 2014, was also the most dazzling performance of his glittering Test career. He made the world sit up and take notice with a total of 692 runs at an average of 86.50 with four hundreds. After starting with hundreds in both innings at Adelaide (115 and 141), he smashed his highest score in Australia, 169, in the third Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground. He finished with an innings of 147 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

In his third foray, in 2018, he was leading India to a historic series win.

“His record in Australia is outstanding. When he is chasing, his record in the second innings is brilliant,” former India wicket-keeper and national selector Kiran More said. “His batting aggression is superb; at one end when someone is batting so well, it becomes easier for the batting partner at the other.

“In Tests, Kohli not being there is huge,” More added, “but it also serves as an opportunity for someone to step up and perform at that level.”

Kohli’s absence improves Australia’s chances of avenging their home series defeat, but ace off-spinner Nathan Lyon said Australia would have preferred to play India with Kohli in the side. “It’s disappointing for the series. You want to play against the best players in the world,” Lyon said. “I believe he is the best player in the world along with Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. It’s disappointing but they have still got superstars.”

Kohli will lead India in three ODIs, three Twenty20 internationals and the first Test before heading home. The second Test starts in Melbourne on December 26 followed by matches in Sydney on January 7 and Brisbane on January 15, all played under strict bio-security protocols. In an interview to AFP, Australia great Steve Waugh compared the contest with India as a heavyweight title fight. Kohli’s absence “does take away from the series”.

“It’s a bit like a couple of years ago when India won without Warner or Smith in the side,” he said. “You really want to win against the best possible opposition, particularly when this is like the heavyweight title fight.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
File Photo of Sourav Ganguly(HT_PRINT)
File Photo of Sourav Ganguly(HT_PRINT)

Sourav Ganguly taken to hospital after complaining of chest pain

By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 03:12 PM IST
  • Ganguly was admitted to Woodlands hospital in Kolkata on January 2 after he had complained of chest pain and dizziness. He later underwent angioplasty after he was diagnosed with three blockages in the coronary artery.
Close
India's Kuldeep Yadav bowls in the nets at the Sydney Cricket Ground during training in Sydney, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, ahead of their cricket test against Australia starting Thursday. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)(AP)
India's Kuldeep Yadav bowls in the nets at the Sydney Cricket Ground during training in Sydney, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, ahead of their cricket test against Australia starting Thursday. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)(AP)

Rahane explains why Sundar found the spot in Brisbane Test ahead of Kuldeep

By hindustantimes.com
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:14 PM IST
Ajinkya Rahane, who led India to a historic series win in the absence of Virat Kohli, revealed why Sundar was chosen ahead of Kuldeep.
Close
Rishabh Pant bats against Australia
Rishabh Pant bats against Australia

'The idea to promote Rishabh Pant at no. 5 came from Virat Kohli'

By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:13 PM IST
Speaking to India off-spinner R Ashwin in a video on his Youtube channel, India batting coach revealed it was Virat Kohli's idea to promote Pant up in the batting order.
Close
India's Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane line up during the national anthems.(REUTERS)
India's Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane line up during the national anthems.(REUTERS)

'Virat was and will always be the captain of India Test team': Rahane

By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 09:46 AM IST
After the series win in Australia, questions are going around if Virat Kohli should be replaced by Ajinkya Rahane as India's Test captain. On being asked about the same, Rahane said that nothing would change between him and Kohli.
Close
Rishabh Pant was the toast of his team mates and the cricket world as India conquered Fortress Gabba.(Getty Images)
Rishabh Pant was the toast of his team mates and the cricket world as India conquered Fortress Gabba.(Getty Images)

INTERVIEW | 'Outside the ropes there's no fielder, why not go for a six?': Pant

UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 08:51 AM IST
Gabba hero Rishabh Pant details his and India’s turnaround in the last Test, says going for victory was on his mind all along.
Close
File Photo of Australian Test captain Tim Paine(Reuters)
File Photo of Australian Test captain Tim Paine(Reuters)

Cricket Australia defends ‘brilliant leader’ Tim Paine

By hindustantimes.com
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 12:39 PM IST
Cricket Australia's EGM (National Teams) Ben Oliver stated that some of the commentary surrounding his position ‘has been wide of the mark’.
Close
Photos of Mohammed Azharuddeen (L), Sandeep Lamichhane (c) and Jason Roy (R)(HT Collage)
Photos of Mohammed Azharuddeen (L), Sandeep Lamichhane (c) and Jason Roy (R)(HT Collage)

IPL 2021: Five players who can set the auction tables on fire

By hindustantimes.com
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST
Let’s have a look at the list of players who can grab a good deal in the upcoming mini-auction
Close
Representational Image(AP)
Representational Image(AP)

Australia board asked about vaccine timeline for South Africa tour

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:49 PM IST
Australia named a squad on Wednesday for the three-test tour which is expected to kick off later next month, though dates and venues are yet to be confirmed.
Close
IPL Auctions (IPL)
IPL Auctions (IPL)

IPL 2021 auction to be held on February 18 in Chennai

By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:54 PM IST
IPL auction dates announced: Indian players who don't have a contract and wish to be a part of the auction will need to fill the player auction agreement and submit it online on February 4 by 5 pm. The originals can be sent by post till February 12.
Close
India's Rishabh Pant falls as he hits the ball for four runs during play on the final day of the fourth cricket test between India and Australia at the Gabba, Brisbane.(AP)
India's Rishabh Pant falls as he hits the ball for four runs during play on the final day of the fourth cricket test between India and Australia at the Gabba, Brisbane.(AP)

Four Indian cricketers nominated for new ICC player of month awards for January

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 01:02 PM IST
Besides Ashwin and Pant, two other Indians -- Mohammed Siraj and T Natarajan -- are also in the fray. All of them played a stellar role in India's recent historic Test series win against Australia.
Close
James Taylor and Kevin Pietersen(Twitter)
James Taylor and Kevin Pietersen(Twitter)

'KP abused me': Former England batsman accuses Pietersen of 'bullying' him

By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 11:00 AM IST
James Taylor, who made his debut for England in 2012 against South Africa, said he has all the respect for Kevin Pietersen as a cricketer but he can’t quite say the same about Pietersen as a person.
Close
Ajinkya Rahane Mohammed Siraj to the umpire as the game was halted after allegedly some remarks were made by the spectators on the fourth day of the Sydney Test(AFP)
Ajinkya Rahane Mohammed Siraj to the umpire as the game was halted after allegedly some remarks were made by the spectators on the fourth day of the Sydney Test(AFP)

Australia confirms India players subjected to racial abuse

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:05 AM IST
"CA confirms that members of the Indian cricket team were subjected to racial abuse," CA integrity chief Sean Carroll said in a statement.
Close
MS Dhoni and wife Sashi with Rishabh Pant(Sakshi Dhoni/Instagram)
MS Dhoni and wife Sashi with Rishabh Pant(Sakshi Dhoni/Instagram)

Rishabh Pant meets MS Dhoni after landing in India, Sakshi shares candid photo

By hindustantimes.com
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 09:43 AM IST
Rishabh Pant, who played a crucial role in India’s historic 2-1 series victory in Australia, met MS Dhoni and Sakshi a few days after landing in Delhi. Sakshi shared photos on Instagram.
Close
India's Shardul Thakur celebrates
India's Shardul Thakur celebrates

'Thought it's time for a bouncer': Shardul on game-changing moment at Gabba

By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 11:18 AM IST
India pacer Shardul Thakur revealed story behind the wicket that he believes started turning the game in India's favour at the Gabba in Melbourne.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP