Kolkata: India’s terrific form in Test cricket came to a halt last Saturday at the hands of a visiting Australian side. One of the reasons for India’s humiliating defeat has been the failure of skipper Virat Kohli to play a big knock in both the innings. India put on a dismal show with the bat and Aussie paceman Mitchell Starc, who had sent back the Indian skipper to the pavilion for a rare duck in the first innings, warned his teammates of the fact that the number two ranked Test batsman would come back, ‘bigger and stronger’.
The second Test is scheduled to be held in Bengaluru on Saturday. A performance which was way below his standards, Kohli failed to put up a fight with the willow as he could only muster a total of 13 runs in two innings. The heavily dependent Indians could only score 212 runs in the match, which happens to be one of their lowest aggregates in Test cricket at home.
For a man who has smacked four Test double centuries in four consecutive series, such a poor performance came as a shock to many. While chasing a wide delivery outside the off-stump, Kohli edged the ball which was safely pocketed by Peter Handscomb at first slip. His dismissal – in a way – dented the morale of the Indian batting.
Starc who is well aware of Kohli’s potential and determination to bounce back after a failure having played with him in the IPL said in an interaction with reporters, “He’s a class player, we all know that. He’s scored a mountain of runs already this year. We’re going to have to be wary of that Virat comeback.”
Starc who played a crucial role with both the bat and the ball in the Aussie victory had scalped two big wickets- that of Pujara and Kohli in one over which set the tone for the rest of the match and shook the very foundations of the Indian batting in the first innings. Speaking on the importance of both the wickets, the speedster, quite unsurprisingly added more value to Kohli’s wicket as the latter has established himself as an unstoppable force in recent times in the five day format. He said, “We know he’ll come back bigger and stronger, but he’s one I’ll take over Pujara at the moment.”
The Australian left-armer was well aware of how destructive and dangerous the Indian captain can be, when he is at his very best. And perhaps that’s why, he said, “We know (Kohli) is going to be another key wicket for the rest of the series. There’s six more times we’ve got to get him out to really cement this series,”
However, he didn’t take away anything from his team’s performance, which was nothing short of phenomenal as against everyone’s expectations, they outplayed the mighty Indians with some quality spin bowling, on a Pune pitch which was a rank-turner from the word go. He was also wary of the fact that there were three more test matches remaining in the series, in which they hold a 1-0 advantage over the hosts. He said, “We are really happy that it happened that way for us, but we know that one Test is not going to win us the series. It’s three important Test matches to go.”
The last time Kohli was out for a duck in international cricket was way back against England in 2014. Since then, 104 international innings have passed by and Kohli has evolved into a new player in the Test format, rising up the ranks to reach to the second spot in the rankings for the ICC Test Batsmen. After enjoying a terrific run with the willow, such a rare failure wasn’t expected as much of the Indian fans would hope along the lines of Mitchell Starc that the Indian skipper comes back with a roar in the next match. The next match is scheduled to take place in Bengaluru, which is Kohli’s IPL home ground, on the 4th of March. Fans would surely want Kohli to regain his mojo as he is one of the best batsmen in world cricket currently.
(With inputs from AFP)