‘He has something special about him:’ Former Australia coach John Buchanan explains how Virat Kohli’s absence will impact India
Former Australia coach John Buchanan recalled India’s historic Test series win in Australia, saying even though it was Cheteshwar Pujara, who emerged the highest run-scorer for India in the series, captain Virat Kohli’s contributions were equally significant. During India’s famous 2-1 series win in Australia in 2018-19, Pujara had starred with 521 runs in four Tests, including three centuries, while Kohli totalled 282 runs.
Even though that kind of performance was no where close to the one Kohli had in 2014/15 – where he’d scored 692 runs, Buchanan reckons Kohli was a monumental figure in the series and the India captain’s absence will have an impact on India’s performance in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
“He (Kohli) has done an incredibly good job - irrespective of whether he is scoring runs or not. If we go back to 2019, (Cheteshwar) Pujara was the star of the series and Kohli made some contributions, so did (Ajinkya) Rahane.But Kohli’s real contribution is his leadership and captaincy and the way he instills greatness - not only to win games, but also in finding a way to beat teams,” Buchanan told Sportstar.
During the last week of the IPL, Kohli had touched upon the Australian tour and underlined how the bio-bubble duration should also be counted in the overall duration of the tour. Being in bio-bubbles tends to have an effect – a sort of mental wear down on players – something Kohli had touched upon, and highlighting the same, Buchanan reckons that is where India will miss Kohli the most.
“There hasn’t been a lot of Test cricket. They are going to be inside a bubble for at least two months and I do believe that someone like Kohli is a very positive person, engaging person, who cares about his team very much off the field as well. Whoever replaces him - which is probably going to be Rahane - might be a good leader, but Kohli has something special about him. It’s not only on the field, but they will also be missing him off-the-field, because it’s going to be a long tour.”
Kohli will played the three T20Is and ODIs, along with the first Test – a day-night affair at the Adelaide Cricket Ground – before returning to be with wife Anushka Sharma, who is due to give birth to the couple’s first child. Besides Kohli, another factor that will make like somewhat more difficult that the last tour is the return of Steve Smith and David Warner. Warner and Smith had missed the previous Test series against India due to their respective bans, but Australia will give them more than just a chance now that the star batting duo is back.
“Neither teams have experienced these things before, but nonetheless, it makes it even harder for the touring team when these are the circumstances surrounding you and the environment,” Buchanan, Australia’s World Cup winning coach added.