Back to top




Kohli's conqueror pushes Ashes case

29 September 2017

Martin Smith, in Bengaluru


Martin Smith, in Bengaluru


Returning quick Nathan Coulter-Nile emerging as Test candidate after impressing in India

Forgotten paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile has silenced star batsman Virat Kohli in India to put his name forward for an unlikely Test debut this summer.

The return from injury of the 29-year-old has been one of the rare bright spots so far on Australia's tour of India, the right-armer taking nine wickets at 23 including the scalp of captain Kohli three times in four matches.

Having had him caught at backward point without scoring in Chennai, Coulter-Nile has also had Kohli chopping onto his stumps twice - in Kolkata and Bengaluru - as the Indian star has posted scores of 92, 28 and 21 in his next three games.

'He's probably the next one in': Richardson on NCN

Such are the remarkably high standards superstar Kohli has set for himself in one-day cricket, restricting him to an average of 35 so far in this series represents a victory of sorts for the Australian side, despite their 1-3 series deficit.

Coulter-Nile remains behind Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson when it comes to Test selection, but the fact that three of that quartet are currently sidelined by injury raises the prospect of pace re-enforcements being needed for the Magellan Ashes this summer.

And according to teammate Kane Richardson, who himself has spoken about his quest to be fifth or six in line for a Test berth, Coulter-Nile has pushed to the front of the chasing pack.

"He's been amazing," Richardson said after Australia's breakthrough 21-run win in Bengaluru on Thursday.

"He's been amazing getting Kohli out three out of the four games.

"He's pushing his case for higher honours in Test cricket this year, I think. If there's any injuries or you're resting and rotating, he's probably the next one in."

Ponting backs forgotten man Coulter-Nile

Coulter-Nile's rise from forgotten quick to potential Test debutant over the past few weeks comes after he was sidelined for the entirety of last summer due to a back problem, the latest in a long line of injuries that has cruelled his progression in recent years.

And his lack of cricket on home soil has meant he's been out of mind for most Australian fans simply because he's been out of sight.

Of the past 53 games of cricket Coulter-Nile has played across all competitions and in all formats, 45 have been overseas and more than half of them in the Indian Premier League, which isn't broadcast in Australia.

Since playing in the KFC Big Bash League final in January 2015, Coulter-Nile has played just four matches that have been broadcast live on Australian free-to-air television in daylight hours or primetime.

But Richardson believes if the right-armer can stay on the park, he'll quickly be back in the national consciousness.

"When you sat down a month ago and thought about the Ashes, you probably wouldn't think of him being next in," he said.

"(Jason) Behrendorff and (Chadd) Sayers and those kinds of guys are probably at the top of your mind and you forget about him because he hasn't played.

"But when you actually watch him go about his work, he's a serious bowler. It's pretty good for Australia to have someone like that waiting in the wings."

There's no doubt Coulter-Nile has had the wood over Kohli in 2017. In five matches against each other, in the Indian Premier League and this ODI series, the Australian has dismissed the Indian star four times in 28 balls for the cost of just eight runs.

Maxi's Blog: NCN reflects on stop-start career

While Kohli mastered Coulter-Nile with four consecutive boundaries late in his match-winning innings against Australia at the 2016 World T20, skipper Steve Smith will be tempted to throw his paceman the ball whenever the Indian skipper walks out to bat in the remaining four matches on this tour.

"You'd have to ask Smithy but it seems that way," Richardson said.

"He's just got a knack of taking wickets and he is one of those bowlers who just finds a way to get people out no matter the conditions.

"And if you throw in his fielding and his batting at the end, he's a pretty good package.

"Hopefully he can stay on the park because if you keep him fit along with the other bowlers around Australia, it's pretty exciting."

ODI Fixtures

September 17: India won by 26 runs (DLS Method)

September 21: India won by 50 runs

September 24: India won by five wickets

September 28: Australia won by 21 runs

October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur

T20 Fixtures

October 7: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad

About the Writer

Martin Smith is a writer for He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.