Qantas Tour of India 2020
Kohli eyes Aussie pink-ball Test, rematch with Smith, Warner
India captain welcomes challenge of day-night Test at either Gabba or Perth as he looks forward to facing a full-strength Australian side
Cricket Network in Mumbai
14 January 2020, 02:26 PM AEST
Virat Kohli has warned his Indian players they won't have it as easy in Australia next summer after accepting they had beaten a weakened team in last year's historic Test series win.
This week's three-match one-day series between the two teams will act as something of a forerunner to next summer's major prize when the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is put on the line again.
India and Australia are first and second in the world Test rankings – and currently sit well clear at the top of the World Test Championship standings.
India's 2-1 series victory to claim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy last summer was the first time any team from Asia had won a series in Australia.
However, they did it against an Australian side missing Steve Smith and David Warner, who were still serving their 12-month bans, and before Marnus Labuschagne had risen to the lofty heights he is currently occupying.
"Having won last year, that gives us a lot more confidence going back," Kohli said ahead of tonight' first ODI (7.30pm AEDT, Fox Cricket and Kayo).
"This time around, the series is going to be different, in terms of their batting challenging our bowlers.
"To be fair, last time around, the players were not that experienced.
"If you take out David (Warner) and Steve (Smith), Marnus (Labuschagne) came in but he played only one game.
"It'll be a challenge for us to break through that batting order but it's a challenge we should look forward to.
"The series will be right up there with any of the best series we've seen in the past five or six years."
Kohli's comments came after Tim Paine admitted last week he already had one eye on the Indian Test series, noting how much his Australian side had changed.
Six of the Aussies' likely squad for the next summer are in India for this week's ODI series, but Kohli says no advantage can be taken from that into the Tests.
He is more concerned with Australia's red-ball record since their 2-1 defeat at home.
While India have been undefeated in Test series since mid-2018, the Aussies have since flogged Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand while also retaining the Ashes.
Labuschagne has also emerged as one of the world's best batsmen, with his Test average of 63.43 only second to Sir Donald Bradman.
"The way he's shaped up in the last summer, it's amazing," Kohli said.
"He's shown so much consistency that's always good to watch at the international level.
"He has the hunger and the passion – you can see it in his game.
"We should not look forward to easy games and, going to Australia, you should not expect anything easy."
Kohli added his side were ready to play a day-night Test at Australia's formidable Gabba ground or in Perth next summer.
India played their first day-night Test in Kolkata last year, thrashing Bangladesh in little more than two days.
India had knocked back overtures to play under lights in Adelaide in the 2018-19 series but Kohli now appears more at ease with pink-ball cricket.
"We played the day-night Test here and were pretty happy with how it went. It's become a very exciting feature of any Test series, so we are absolutely open to play a day-night Test," Kohli told reporters in Mumbai.
"We are ready and up for the challenge. Whether it's Gabba or Perth, doesn't matter to us. We do have the skillsets as a team now to compete against anyone in the world anywhere. In any format of the game, whether it's white ball, red ball, pink ball."
India are looking to sharpen their act ahead of the T20 World Cup in October, and the three ODI matches at home will be a key part of the preparation.
This three-match series is Australia's first visit to India since Aaron Finch's side beat their hosts 3-2 last March after losing the opening two games.
Kohli believes a new close-fought battle will be fought this week.
"It is always 3-2, 2-1 kind of series," Kohli said on the eve of the opening game.
"Having played a lot against each other, we know the strengths and weaknesses of either side. So it's always good and a tough challenge playing Australia purely because of the skill set and mindset they bring on to the field."
And he warned: "The way they are playing their cricket now after Steve (Smith) and David (Warner) have come back, it's pretty intense.
"They are challenging every team, they are dominating a few teams as well. So I think, we along with Australia are probably the top two sides in the world as far as balance is concerned."
Kohli said India will need a top performance in every game.
"As players we are excited to play a full-strength Australia in our conditions, also to test ourselves against the best," said Kohli.
"In the year of the World Cup as many games as we play together as a team, it's going to benefit us, especially the white-ball cricket."
Kohli also said he is open to playing three opening batsmen – KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma – in the same team, even if it means dropping himself down the batting order.
Australia Qantas ODI Tour of India 2020
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner, Adam Zampa
India squad: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami.
First ODI: January 14, Mumbai (D/N) (Fox & Kayo)
Second ODI: January 17, Rajkot (D/N) (Fox & Kayo)
Third ODI: January 19, Bengaluru (D/N) (Fox & Kayo)