India vs Australia: Virat Kohli vs Jasprit Bumrah - a friendly contest for the ages
Ind vs Aus: Ahead of the first ODI at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Kohli was on strike as he faced Bumrah and it was a sight to behold.Updated: Jan 13, 2020 19:46 IST
It was a contest like no other, a focussed match-up between the best batsman in the world and the fiercest bowler in the game today. And that unfolded on one of the practice pitches at the Wankhede Stadium, when Virat Kohli took guard in the pacers’ nets to face Jasprit Bumrah.
Batting in the nets is a difficult proposition by itself, what with a battery of bowlers running in one after the other and leaving the batsman with little opportunity for a breather. That challenge, however, tends to increase that much more when a tearaway is bowling at full tilt. Ask the yesteryear Pakistani batsmen what it felt like to face Shoaib Akhtar; or the Aussies (and TV host Piers Morgan for that matter) about Brett Lee.
Bumrah isn’t known to hold back in the nets. In fact, it was his foot-crushing delivery that sent Vijay Shankar back from the World Cup last year. So, it wasn’t really a surprise to anyone witnessing this that Kohli, at the end of his batting session on Monday, celebrated like he does when his century helps hunt down a tricky chase. Later on, in the press conference, Kohli would reveal that the celebration was due to not only surviving Bumrah, but also not getting out to him -- which is rare for an Indian batsman.
“Bumrah has been playing for the team for the last four years now and this is probably the second time I have ever not gotten out to him (during a nets session),” said Kohli. “The only other time was in Adelaide before the Test in 2018.”
In its entirety, the spectacle lasted about 20 minutes, finishing with a top-edged shot by Kohli that flew over the fence. But before Bumrah could get back to his mark to have another go at his skipper, Kohli had rushed out of the nets, victorious.
“Jasprit ran back to his mark but I got out of the nets. I’m glad that was the last ball of my net session,” Kohli said, smiling. “It’s a fun sort of competition. According to me he’s the most skilful bowler in the world in any format of the game. To play against him...he brings match-intensity in the nets, I can assure you that.”
What did he really mean by ‘match-intensity’? Kohli soon elaborated. “He’s not shy of hitting us on the head or targeting our ribs every now and then. He’s a proper, proper bowler and it’s always nice to play against the best in the nets,” he said. “I challenge myself to play well against him -- not every day do you get to hit boundaries off Jasprit in the nets. Today was one, so I’m very happy. You can ask him next time, I’m sure he’ll have something to say about me.”
Like the Bumrah of today, Javagal Srinath was the feared one in the nets in the 90s. Srinath’s uncanny ability to generate awkward bounce into the ribs from short-of-a-length made many an Indian batsman from that era worry before stepping into the cage with him.
Only Sachin Tendulkar didn’t think twice before accepting the Srinath challenge; just like the Kohli of today.