'I hit Virat Kohli on the helmet and after that...': Australia great's fiery duel amid IND vs AUS 4th Test of BGT 2023
A former Australia speedster recalled his fiery battle with Virat Kohli when he was a youngster in a high-profile Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
If one is to go back in time and pinpoint one particular series or match which established the greatness of Virat Kohli, what would it be? Is it the 183 against Pakistan at the 2012 Asia Cup, or the unbeaten 133 against Sri Lanka a couple of months before in the CB Series where he took Lasith Malinga to the cleaners? Or was it the following year, when Kohli blasted a century off 52 balls to help India gun down 359 against Australia? Well, to be honest, the answer is none of the above. The making of Kohli can be traced back to the year 2014.
Kohli had just come back from England after enduring the worst Test series of his career where he batting, technique and mindset was exposed by James Anderson as Kohli struggled on his way to scoring 134 runs in five Tests. A few months later, Kohli was under intense pressure as another high-profile tour awaited – against Australia. Many doubted whether it would be the end of Kohli, but what transpired down under brought him out like a diamond. Kohli achieved batting nirvana in Australia scoring 692 runs in four Tests, including four centuries. Kohli started the Border Gavaskar Trophy as captain in the first Test, when MS Dhoni was ruled out due to a thumb injury and led from the front scoring twin centuries in Adelaide.
It was there that former Australia speedster Mitchell Johnson and Kohli had one of the most memorable face-offs of all time. A menacing pacer up against a fiery youngster – it was always going to be a contest to watch out for and boy… the battle sure did live up to the moniker. Recalling the series and Kohli's tenacity, Johnson highlighted Virat's knack of brining the fire back to Australia is what forced him and rest of his teammates to take note of the then-youngster.
"I've contributed to a few of those hundreds. The beauty of playing Test cricket for me was playing against the best. I always felt like he was a great player but I think the different that I found was that he brough the fire back and he actually put it back on us. We would always be quite aggressive as Australian players but he put it back on us and that's why it probably surprised us at times," Johnson said while doing commentary in the fourth Test between India and Australia in Ahmedabad on Monday.
"You often look at different players across different countries and you wonder they can play for your team and Virat Kohli was one of those guys that you would have in your team not just for his amazing batting but because of the attitude that he brought and the fight that he had."
\The sight of Johnson picking up the ball after Kohli had defended it back to him and then throwing it back at the batter hitting him on the body remains an everlasting one. And the fact that Kohli refused to accept Johnson's apology on his way to 115 and 141 was the stuff of legends. But it was the first ever ball that Johnson bowled to Kohli that set up the tempo for the series and one that sent alarm bells in the Australian camp that they were witnessing something special.
"I think it was the first ball I bowled. I hit him on the helmet... on the badge... it was a different time. There was a bit going on with Phil Hughes' passing and that sort of shook us up. But even just after that you could see the determination on his face being struck on the helmet. Throughout the whole series, just that fight. It was an outstanding tour by India; they really did fight hard," added the former Aussie quick.