ICC Champions Trophy 2017

Kohli picks toughest bowler he's faced

India star names bowler he has barely faced as the one who worries him most when he's at the crease

Dave Middleton

16 October 2017, 11:33 PM

India superstar Virat Kohli has made a surprising admission on the toughest bowler he has faced, saying the honour belonged to a rival that has dismissed him just once in six matches.

Kohli has fallen to Aussie tweaker Nathan Lyon five times in Test cricket, from 13 matches, although twice he had already posted centuries.

And he has also been dismissed five times by James Anderson, four of those in English conditions on a forgettable 2014 tour for the world's No.6 ranked Test batsman.

In one-day cricket, West Indies right-armer Ravi Rampaul has dimissed Kohli the most, six times claiming his scalp in 12 matches, while Sri Lanka's Thisara Perera has claimed him five times.

And just last month, Australia's Nathan Coulter-Nile cause Kohli plenty of trouble with his wicket three times, twice bowled, to go with one more in this year's IPL.

Maxwell's stunning one-hander accounts for Kohli

In the shortest format, where Kohli excels best, only one bowler has dismissed him twice in international cricket – England's Stuart Meaker, and who would have guessed that?

But the man Kohli said gave him the most trouble has dismissed him just the once in six encounters in white-ball cricket: Pakistan quick Mohammad Amir.

So the surprise is not that he's picked a bowler who is world-class, but that that he's picked one that through scheduling, he has only occasionally faced in his long career.

But what a dismissal that sole wicket was, coming in the final of the Champions Trophy tournament in England this winter.

Amir has last laugh after Kohli's second chance

The India captain nicked off from Amir in the third over of India's run chase in that final, when a seaming ball caught the right-hander's outside edge, only for it to be put down by Azhar Ali at first slip.

But the very next ball Kohli, perhaps wary of the seam movement, or maybe beaten by it again, got a leading edge on an attempted flick to the on-side and was well caught by Shadab Khan at point.

Kohli's exit for five in that tournament continued a poor string of scores in ODI elimination finals: he averages 23 runs less in elimination games than his regular career mark.

But in six meetings across all formats, Amir has done enough to have Kohli on high alert when he's got the ball in hand.

“In the recent times, Mohammad Amir of Pakistan (is the hardest to face)," Kohli said on an Indian chat show with Bollywood star Aamir Khan.

"He is in the top two or three bowlers in the world and one of the toughest bowlers I have played in my career.

"You have to be on your ‘A’ Game when you’re facing him or he will strike.

"Outstanding, a very good bowler."

From the vault: Amir's fiery spell to Australia

Amir, for his part, has returned the compliment in recent times, labelling Kohli the best he's bowled to since his return from the spot-fixing scandal that saw him banned for five years.

"They all are (great) but personally Virat Kohli," Amir said when asked who of gun quartet Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Kohli and Joe Root was the best batter during a Q&A session on Twitter.

Amir removed Kohli and in-form openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan during a devastating spell that all but sealed the Champions Trophy title for Pakistan in June.

"That was the start we needed," Amir said of his devastating display at the time. "Shikhar, Rohit and Kohli were in tremendous form.

"I was looking for early wickets and I did it."