134 home guards become constables

The support Kohli gets from the other batsmen will be the key, feels the former ’keeper-batsman

Adam Gilchrist is expecting Virat Kohli to do an encore of 2014-15 Test series but for India to win the coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy, the other batsmen will have to rally around its talismanic skipper.

“Going ahead into the Test series, I expect Virat Kohli will have another imperious outing like he did in 2014 (694 runs in four Tests at average 86.50). I have spoken with him these last few days, seen his confidence, and seeing the way he batted in Sydney, I will be very surprised if he doesn’t,” Gilchrist told PTI during an interview.

“The key for India winning this series, though, will be the batsmen around him. Will they support him enough to allow India to get enough runs, and give their good bowling attack enough opportunity to defend or even bowl Australia twice in a Test?” he added.

Early inroads

When asked if there could be a particular ploy from Australia to stop Kohli, Gilchrist replied,”I don’t think I will be able to pinpoint a plan because I don’t know. At best, Australia will have to be patient. They will have to play good old-fashioned Test cricket. Their best hope is to make early inroads in the Indian batting and bowl at Kohli with the new ball.

“Of course, they have to attack all batsmen and not just him, especially when they are new to the crease. But they also need to know when to go defensive and play the patience game against him for long hours.”

Gilchrist conceded that India starts favourite but added that it won’t take too much for Australia to be dominant in its own conditions.

“India start as favourites for this Test series mainly because they have a reasonable idea of their team composition. They have a strong understanding what combination they want to play with.

“Maybe 1-2 spots will be up for grabs but otherwise their playing eleven is very much set. I think India have a stable Test team. Whereas if you look at Australia, I don’t think their selectors are quite sure about the line-up or team balance. This is a new phase for Australian cricket.”

“Having said that, I think either side can win the series. It won’t take much for Australia to be confident in their own conditions and start dominating the series. We have seen this happen in the past as well.

Top bowling attacks

“Both teams have top-drawer bowling attacks, so it will come down to which batting line-up can eliminate collapses. Kohli talked about India’s tour of England and said that when they were poor, they were really poor, and hence lost. India have only batted reasonably well in patches in both South Africa and England. They are favourites, but they also have to be honest with themselves,” said Gilchrist.

“I think it was a reasonably even T20I series. India were slightly the more dominant team in two matches. They were certainly unlucky in Melbourne because they were controlling that match. So the series could have finished 2-1 in their favour.”

Gilchrist opined that there is no way Australia will be able to replace the duo.

“Smith and Warner have scored a lion’s share of Australia’s runs over the last couple years or so, and this is a huge loss, no doubt. They are clearly going to miss them, especially Smith because he is in the same space as Kohli.

“Even Cameron Bancroft is a big miss, because he provided a calming influence at the top as a Test opener. In their absence, my advice for Australia would be to bat in a group. And they need to avoid what India did in South Africa and England.

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