Kolkata: The Indian skipper Virat Kohli is currently having a really tough time dealing with the Australians, both on the field and off it. On the field, it is the Aussie bowlers who are making life really difficult for him as he just can’t seem to regain his mojo as a top class batsman.
And off the field, it is the Aussie legendary cricketers, who haven’t quite taken a liking to the Indian skipper’s form and attitude and have ended up criticising him severely.
Not a long while ago, it was Mark Waugh, an Australian national selector and former legendary batsman who had berated the star batsman saying that he had suffered from a, “brain fade” and that his negativity with the bat was having an impact upon the other batsmen in the team.
Adding to this, another Australian legend in the form of wicketkeeper Ian Healy has joined in the criticism of Kohli saying that he is slowly “losing respect” for the Indian cricketer because of his excessive aggression on the field, amounting to continuous sledging.
In an interaction with Melbourne radio station SEN, Healy, who is a veteran of 119 tests said, “The pressure is starting to tell on (Kohli). I’m losing respect for him. He’s got to be a lot more respectful of his opponents. The stuff he did with Steve Smith was unacceptable,”
Virat Kohli was quite consistent with his sledging on Day two of the second Test, currently under way in Bangalore, as he and Aussie skipper were seen to be involved in quite frequent verbal duels. He also had a go at newcomer Matt Renshaw by reminding him of the “toilet break” that he took during the first test in Pune.
Analysing these actions, Healy feels that star batsman disrespected the Aussies. He was also of the opinion that that Kohli’s fiery attitude was putting unnecessary pressure on his teammates.
He said, “I’ve said in the past, he (Kohli) is the best batsman I’ve ever seen. His feistiness and real aggression towards the opposition has been good (in the past), especially when he was not captain. It would lead his team with him. They’re more timid than they look and they let on, the Indian cricketers.
“So Kohli’s aggression was good for them. But I think it’s not good for them anymore. He’s really putting some pressure on (his players). You can read pressure all over Ravi Ashwin’s face. I think there are massive cracks showing in (Kohli)” added Healy, who wants the Indian skipper to decrease his on-field aggression.
In contrast to what Healy said, Simon Katich another Aussie great offered another perspective to this occurrence and said that neither side crossed that thin of line of decency, in such a high-profile series as this. He said that both Kohli and his Aussie counterpart Steve Smith dealt with the nervous situations quite beautifully.
He said ,” I thought both of them handled it extremely well. You could tell there was a lot of emotion out there, India were desperate for wickets. They know Steven Smith is a huge wicket,” Katich said on ABC’s Grandstand at Stumps podcast.
On the “monkey face” incident involving Ishant Sharma and Steven Smith, on Day two of the second test, that made the headlines, he said, “I think Steve Smith handled it well too, he had a bit of a laugh. He took the mickey out of Ishant, Ishant took the mickey out of him. The umpires handled it well.”
But he praised both the captains for keeping things under control in crunch situations as such a series involving the top two test sides is expected to produce a lot of tension and altercations.
All in all, the captains both deserve a lot of credit because that could have easily gotten out of hand. It could have gotten out of hand but it didn’t courtesy of the two captains” said Katich.
Misery however doesn’t end here for the Indian skipper. He is under a lot of pressure with the bat as in the past three innings, he hasn’t been able to score a single fifty. He has enjoyed a prolific run with the bat in the last year but has failed to replicate his form in the ongoing series so far.
What’s even worse is the fact that he was controversially given out in the Indian second innings to a Hazelwood delivery that wrapped him on the pads.
Even before umpire Nigel Llong had raised his finger, Kohli went for a review as he firmly believed that his bat was involved. However his poor stint with the DRS continued as he was given out, as for the third consecutive time that he has got out quite early in the Indian innings.
But we all know who and how Virat Kohli is. A fiery and passionate cricketer, he has always given it back to the opposition whenever the latter had a go at him and he had proved to the world his mettle and aggression.
He had been in a similar sort of a situation in 2014 with the bat in a disastrous tour of England but he came back and came back hard to regain his form like a true champion. Indian fans would however expect him to regain his touch quickly, and they would all like to see the Kohli who consistently stormed past records in the recently concluded year in his way up to the second spot in the ICC Test batsman rankings.
(With inputs from PTI)