Domain Tests v India
Kohli to be fuelled by failure: Waugh
After managing just 46 runs at nine the last time Australia and India met, Steve Waugh says the world's best batter has a point to prove
5 December 2018, 08:31 PM AEST
It is the will to redress a poor personal contribution to the most recent India-Australia Test series as much as the desire to marshal his country's first triumph on their arch-rival's home turf that will relentlessly drive Virat Kohli through the coming weeks.
That's the view of former Australia skipper Steve Waugh who rates Kohli as the pre-eminent batting technician currently playing international cricket, and among the most innately competitive players he has witnessed at global level.
He has also forecast that Kohli will eventually assume every Test-match batting benchmark save for Sir Donald Bradman's career average of 99.94 by the time his already gilded career reaches its end.
However, Waugh believes that while India ultimately triumphed 2-1 in a fractious campaign when the teams last met 20 months ago, the fact that Kohli's individual return in that series was dwarfed by his rival captain, Steve Smith, will spur the India leader throughout this summer.
In the four-match series played in India during February and March 2017, Smith scored 499 runs at an average of 71.29 including three centuries while Kohli – who injured his shoulder in a fielding mishap and missed the final Test – managed just 46 runs at 9.2, with a highest score of 15.
That represented the lowest yield from a multi-Test series in Kohli's 73-match tenure.
Since arriving in Australia earlier this month, Kohli has shown a single-minded intent to dominate Australia's bowlers that began with an extra, solo net session in Melbourne last Thursday.
And most recently manifested in his match-winning 61 not out from 41 balls that led India to victory in the Gillette T20 Series decider at the SCG last Sunday night.
Waugh says that even though Kohli's overriding ambition will be to secure the Border-Gavaskar Trophy for India for the first time in Australia, the 30-year-old will also be hellbent on making amends for his lean trot when the teams previously met in the Test arena.
"He'll be putting a bit of pressure on himself, this (a series win in Australia) will be the feather in the cap if he can pull this off," Waugh told cricket.com.au recently.
"The last series in India where Steve Smith totally dominated him … Smith had this incredible series and scored about (500) runs, and Virat hardly scored a run.
"So that would have been deflating for him, and he'll look to square the ledger when he comes back to Australia."
Kohli has already proved that his peerless batting skills can prosper in Australian conditions.
On India's previous Test visit to Australia four years ago, in addition to inheriting the captaincy from M.S. Dhoni who stood down amid his team's 2-0 defeat, Kohli was the visitors' leading run scorer with 692 at 86.50 – a record for any India batter in a Test series against Australia.
He was, however, once again eclipsed by Smith who posted 769 at an average of 128.17 during that Test summer, including centuries in the first innings of all four Tests.
With Smith absent from the coming four-match Domain Test series – along with former Australia vice-captain David Warner, who is also serving a 12-month ban for involvement in the ball-tampering scandal – Kohli sees an opportunity to stamp his authoritative class upon the summer.
Having missed out during India's tour-opening T20 defeat at the hands of Australia in Brisbane, the world's top-ranked test and ODI batter flayed Australia's bowling as the architect of India's perfectly crafted run-chase and six-wicket win at the SCG.
He followed that up last week in Sydney with a crisp 87-ball 64 in the tourists' only first-class warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI prior to the opening Test at Adelaide Oval beginning Thursday.
Waugh says it's Kohli's impact as a leader as much as his indisputable brilliance with the bat that gives India perhaps their best chance of a Test series win in Australia, more than 70 years after the first touring team arrived here.
Kohli's winning ratio of more than 57 per cent is the best of any India captain to lead the cricket-obsessed nation in more than two Tests.
And should the tourists complete an unprecedented whitewash in Australia, he will overtake Dhoni's benchmark of 27 Test wins (from seven fewer matches) to become India's most successful captain in the game's elite form.
"He leads the way, and the other players follow him," Waugh said
"They want to battle for him, they want to play for him as a captain.
"That's a big thing to have as a captain – the guys are playing for you, and playing for the country.
"He's a really strong leader and he'll be tough to hold back in this series."
Domain Test Series v India
Dec 6-10: First Test, Adelaide Oval
Dec 14-18: Second Test, Perth Stadium
Dec 26-30: Third Test, MCG
Jan 3-7: Fourth Test, SCG
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremain
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar