‘Virat Kohli got under our skin’: Australia coach Justin Langer reveals feeling like a ‘punching bag’ during Perth Test
India captain Virat Kohli might be the best player Australian coach Justin Langer has ever seen in his life but Kohli’s on-field actions had got under his skin and made him feel like a ‘punching bag’ during India’s tour to Australia in 2018-19, revealed the former Australia opener. India, led by Kohli, enjoyed an unprecedented summer Down Under, winning the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2-1, their first-ever Test series win on the Australian soil. It was followed by a 2-1 victory in the ODIs, while the T20 series ended in a 1-1 draw.
Australia who were desperate to restore faith among fans after the sandpaper gate in Cape Town in April 2018, was playing their first big-ticket Test series on home soil without Steve Smith and David Warner - both were banned by Cricket Australia for a year for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal.
Langer and new Australia Test captain Tim Paine had decided not to engage with Virat Kohli during the four-match series, fearing that might charge him up more. But Paine himself broke his stance during the second Test at Optus Stadium in Perth.
Kohli’s celebrations angered Langer but he could not be expressive about it.
“I remember that afternoon (feeling) like a punching bag. We can’t fight back because it felt like we had our hands behind our backs and we just had to take it,” Langer said in Amazon’s recently released docu-series titled ‘The Test’.
“You must be feeling the double standards the way their captain is carrying on and we sort of have to be careful. Imagine if we behaved two out of ten (of) that,” he said.
“We were 1-0 down but I felt that day Virat was getting under our skin,” Langer added after Kohli gave a send-off to couple of Australian batsmen in the second innings.
Langar asked his players to take on Kohli but warned the hosts not to cross the line between banter and abuse. “There is a difference between abuse and banter. There is no room for abuse. We don’t need to abuse him but there is banter where you stick up for your mate.”