VKohli’s moment of sweet revenge has arrived.
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And there isn’t going to be a better chance to change that statistic and enter the record books. Something Kohli has always been gunning for.
Australian cricket has been in turmoil. Post Sandpaper Gate, three players were suspended, followed by the suspension of the coach, the CEO of the board, departure of the chairman and sacking of two executives. Cricket Australia (CA), over the past few months, saw more exits than the main cast of Game of Thrones. To make matters worse, the relationship between Cricket Australia and the player’s association (ACA) has turned sour over a pay dispute. In Steve Smith and David Warner, Australia have lost the heartbeat of their batting line-up. They have also pledged a “cultural change” in the way they will be playing cricket, whatever that means. While Australia will still be a formidable team at home, the fact that they are a fractured unit cannot be missed.
Over the years, India vs Australia has become the defining contest in cricket, as prestigious as an India-Pakistan clash, or The Ashes. The battles on the field have produced some of the most breathtaking moments in the sport’s history — Sachin and Warne’s magnificent duel at the Chepauk, or VVS Laxman’s magical 281 in Hyderabad. Fireworks have not been restricted to the bat and ball, with tempers flying high and heated words being exchanged, from the infamous “monkeygate” to the bizarre “brain fade”.
The stage has been set for Kohli to make history once again.
Even Captain Kohli was furiously taunted by the Australian team and the media, on his previous tour in 2014. India lost the four-match series 2-0 but Kohli had captured the public imagination with his fine batting performances and stirred the pot with his aggression on the field. He did to the Australians what they had been doing to everyone else, and they did not take it well. His behaviour was debated and discussed at length Down Under: He has been called “the biggest sports jerk of the week” and the “Donald Trump of world sport” by the Australian media. FOX Sports ran a poll for the sports villain of the week where Kohli was compared with animals like a panda, puppy and a kitten.
But when it came to the game, India failed to dominate and the Australians basked in glory.
Kohli’s moment of sweet revenge has arrived. India has a fairly balanced unit on this tour and Australia are missing some big names. The first day of the first Test might not have gone India’s way but it’s a long tour and there are many crucial sessions of cricket still to be played.
Fox Sports Australia released an interesting promo for the Ind-Aus series, trying to make it a Virat vs Australia contest. It may sell tickets and generate viewership, but cricket still fundamentally remains a team game. Squad selection, bowling changes, and field placements will be as decisive as the front-foot drives and piercing square cuts. Kohli will be tested, not only as batsman but also as captain. Big grounds and different conditions combined with media pressure and bitter rivalry can get to the best of people. Every move, decision, and press conference will be keenly observed, analysed and critiqued by over a billion people. It has been four years since Kohli last toured Australia as captain, after being handed the baton in Adelaide where MS Dhoni was ruled out due to injury. But with time and experience comes wisdom.
The stage has been set for Kohli to make history once again – to be the first Indian captain to win a Test series against Australia in Australia, to have his legacy solidified and name etched in the record books. It could be the real feather in his cap, the mother of all achievements. The Australian team is definitely not in top form; the question remains whether Kohli can deliver the knockout punch.