Gillette T20s v India
A sneak preview of the Virat Kohli show
Indian skipper’s match-winning innings provides a teaser for what could be another dominant summer in Australia
Sam Ferris at the SCG
26 November 2018, 10:36 AM AEST
Australian fans be warned; the world's best batsman is in prime form and ready to lead India to their first Test series win on these shores.
Virat Kohli's unbeaten 61 on Sunday night guided his side to a series-levelling six-wicket win over Australia in the third and final Gillette T20 international in Sydney.
Set 165 to win, India were cruising to victory before Mitchell Starc and Adam Zampa applied the brakes and brought the hosts back to level pegging. But with Kohli at the crease, an Indian win felt inevitable and that proved to be the case.
The record-breaking crowd of 37,339 strongly favoured the tourists and at several points chanted "Kohli! Kohli! Kohli!" as the India skipper dropped a teaser to what could be a full-length feature of batting domination this summer.
He hit six boundaries in total, with back-to-back fours in the final over sealing the win that saw him explode with emotion.
If he gets that excited for a T20I triumph, imagine what he might do if India win the Test series.
Australia’s vice-captain and wicketkeeper Alex Carey had perhaps the best seat in the house to watch the Kohli masterclass and struggled to come up with an answer when asked how the hosts will stop the best Test batsman in the world across four Tests this summer.
"He obviously played really well tonight," Carey said.
"We’ve seen him do that before and he did it again tonight.
"Hopefully in Tests it’s a different story. We’ve got some good quicks and Nathan Lyon."
Kohli scored four centuries in as many Tests the last time India toured Australia but even his mountain of runs couldn't prevent the visitors slipping to a 2-0 series defeat.
The right-hander was very much India’s aggressor in that series and he has been ever since as he assumed the captaincy from predecessor MS Dhoni at the end of that campaign.
But teammate Krunal Pandya, who claimed 4-36 in the SCG victory, says his combative captain is a different person off the field.
"He is aggressive on the field and that’s how he has played his cricket and he has been very successful," Pandya said.
"Off the field he is an easy-going guy, easy to approach and cracks a lot of jokes, he is a funny guy.
"There is a drastic difference in on and off the field.
"He has played his cricket being aggressive and that has worked for him.
"The way he prepares himself, the way he is so consistent, sometimes he fights with laws of averages and he sets very high standards for everyone so you can consistently perform at this level."
In Kohli, India have a player who lifts the whole team, a player who fills the side with confidence, reassurance and perhaps most importantly, belief.
"Virat has done it a number of times, this kind of innings he has played," Pandya said.
"The self-belief was there but having Virat in the middle is something different."
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