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VICTORIA BITTER ODI SERIES V INDIA

Maxwell clarifies comments on Kohli

22 January 2016

Australia allrounder says suggestions he was attacking Indian superstar are 'completely untrue'

Despite nursing a bruised tendon above his right knee and a sore left hamstring, Glenn Maxwell has moved quickly to correct erroneous reports that he's a critic of India Test captain Virat Kohli.

Reports that Maxwell had taken aim at Kohli – the pair are regular opponents in the international arena as well as the Indian Premier League – drew an immediate response from the Australia allrounder on social media today.

But Maxwell, who remains in doubt for tomorrow's final match of the five-game VB Series that Australia leads 4-0 after being struck above the right knee while batting at Canberra on Wednesday, also spoke out to clarify comments about Kohli that he claims were twisted out of context.

Rather than criticising the India captain for taking the foot off the gas as he approached his century during India's failed run chase at Manuka Oval as was suggested in media reports today, Maxwell reiterated the Australians were "in awe" of the way Kohli was striking the ball and hitting the gaps.

Watch: Maxi compliments Virat

"I was asked to give a bit of an assessment of who was dominating with the bat in this series, and I said 'I don't think anyone in the world is hitting the ball better than Virat at the moment'," Maxwell told cricket.com.au today.

"A lot of us are still in awe of what he can do on the field, and the way that he all but took the game away from us the other night in Canberra was something that we were pretty much powerless to stop.

"It took some really good bowling from our guys to change the momentum, and once we got a couple of quick breakthroughs all the responsibility was pretty much heaped on Virat given the inexperience of their middle and lower-order batters.

"We thought that might be the case, and luckily for us that plan worked.

Quick Single: Steve Smith - captain's column

"But some of the reporting I've seen today makes it seem like I was personally attacking one of the best players in the game about the way he plays, which is completely untrue.

"The point that I was making, and it related more to when India were setting totals and had plenty of wickets in hand, is that the scoring rate seemed to slow as milestones got close, which can sometimes be the case, especially when teams are batting first.

"Maintaining a constant scoring rate can be less straightforward batting first than when you're chasing and you know what the required rate has to be, and there have been times when batters just seem to have slowed a bit to make sure they reach those milestones.

"Sometimes that wins you games, and sometimes it doesn't but that was the only point I was trying to make.

"I've got a really good relationship with Virat off the field and I've already had a chat with him.”

Watch: Kohli's ODI ton No.25

Maxwell also hosed down any suggestion of bad blood between the Australia players and India's feisty number three, who has succeeded World Cup-winning captain MS Dhoni as Test skipper but is currently a leader by deeds alone in the white-ball forms of the game.

Kohli has been involved in a number of volatile exchanges with Australia players in recent years, most recently in a series of running verbal battles with allrounder James Faulkner that both combatants have described as part of the theatre of international cricket.

And Maxwell has helped to demystify suggestions of genuine animosity between Kohli and the Australians by indicating the India batting star takes a strikingly similar approach to the game as the combative Australians.

"Everyone wants to play like Virat does," Maxwell said today.

"As a team, we have enormous respect for him largely because he goes about his cricket in much the same way as we do.

"He's a hard competitor on the field but very fair, and he loves to give as good as he gets.

"Plus he takes the opposition on and that always earns you huge respect from Australian players and fans.

"There's no doubt that during this ODI series everyone's enjoyed the way that he's taken on the role of aggressor, and the battles he's had with James Faulkner have been a real highlight.

"And off the field, he's really likeable, he's got a great personality and he's happy to show that which makes him one of those guys that people can relate to.”

Watch: The GOAT and Maxi tour the Bradman museum

Maxwell also sprang to the defence of 34-year-old Dhoni, who, now that he has retired from Test cricket and is unlikely to lead India to the next ICC World Cup in the UK in 2019, is copping criticism in the Indian media from commentators who believe he should also hand over the ODI reins to Kohli.

The Australia allrounder pointed out that given the comparative inexperience of India's middle-order batting in the short-form, it is vital to have players of experience to buttress an innings as the players who are new to international cricket find their feet.

And he likened the period of transition that India is currently undergoing to the rebuilding of Australia's ODI team when Darren Lehmann took over as coach in 2013, and which ultimately led to last year's World Cup triumph at home.

"I think everyone is unbelievably harsh on MS Dhoni," Maxwell said today. "If he vacates that middle-order, it leaves their batting even more thin with the inexperienced guys they've brought in.

"With four years until the next World Cup, it's probably the perfect time now to bring in young guys and give them a chance to stake their claim but unfortunately for India they can't realistically break up the middle-order like we were able to.

"We were able to put Steve Smith at three, then move (experienced players) George Bailey, Michael Clarke and Shane Watson around as needed with myself at six when we were looking to rebuild that top-order.

Watch: Stumps wraps a classic in Canberra

"So we had experienced guys mixed through there to provide a buffer as needed around a couple of younger guys who were still trying to find their feet at international level.

"And that not only made it easier for me and Steve Smith to find our way in the team, but also gave us a chance to see first-hand how to get the job done."

Having been struck above the right knee cap when batting on Wednesday, an injury that restricted his running and ultimately forced him from the field during India's run chase, Maxwell was always going to struggle to be fit for tomorrow's match at the SCG.

But in his pre-match media conference in Sydney today, Smith indicated that the in-form allrounder might also have a sore left hamstring, the legacy of his playing a pivotal role in a run of four matches in nine days across the country.

Maxwell said today he was working hard on his rehabilitation program to prove himself fit for the ODI series final at the SCG but a final decision on his availability would be made by Australia's medical staff.

About the Writer

 @ARamseyCricket
@ARamseyCricket

Andrew Ramsey is the senior writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for the Guardian, The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the author of The Wrong Line.

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