Virat Kohli’s bickering with Australian captain Tim Paine and his conduct on the field may have invited criticism from the stalwarts of cricket but former Indian fast bowler Praveen Kumar thinks that the captain needs to stick to his natural game.
“Virat has played Under-16 with aggression, he played Under-19 with the same attitude and now he is playing for the nation in the same way. I don’t see any point to criticise him till the point we are getting results,” Kumar said during the launch of Ferit Cricket Bash here.
India’s former batting legend Sunil Gavaskar has been vocal about Kohli’s on-field behaviour while versatile actor Naseeruddin Shah went on to dub him the “world’s worst-behaved player”. Australia’s Allan Border, Mike Hussey and Mitchell Johnson have also expressed displeasure and raised questions over Indian captain’s disrespectful attitude in the second Test in Perth. The tourists lost the game by 146 runs.
About the verbal spat between Kohli and his Australian counterpart, he said, “The banter between him and Paine is good for Test cricket, and that’s what makes the game competitive and a treat for the spectators to watch.”
Defending skipper’s decision of selecting four fast bowlers on a pitch where Nathan Lyon took eight wickets, the former seamer said, “It is difficult to understand people talking about the non-inclusion of a spinner in the team. Had we won the match, the same people would have applauded the decision. Don’t criticise. It has to be the decision of the captain and the coach. We lost in the fourth innings but we have played well in the series so far.”
The pitch at Perth has also come into a lot of criticism, prompting even the ICC match referee to rate it as ‘average’. According to Kumar, the pitch did play a vital role particularly in the fourth innings, where Indian batsmen faltered in quick succession.
“There was uneven bounce in the wicket in the fourth innings, making it difficult to bat. I think Indian players bowled really well and you could see Aaron Finch getting hit on his body by our bowlers several times,” he said.
A report released by Cricket Australia said, “It is understood that match referee Ranjan Madugalle rated the pitch at the new Perth stadium as ‘average’, which is the lowest pass mark provided by the ICC when they rate the pitch and outfield of Test grounds.”
“The Perth verdict is presumably related to the uneven bounce that resulted in a couple of nasty blows,” it added.
The series is currently leveled at 1-1 after Australia defeated India in the second Test match but Kumar is confident that the visitors will “win the series”.
And one of the reasons has been Ishant Sharma’s sublime form especially in the last overseas tours in South Africa, England and now in Australia, prompting many to draw comparisons with former pace spearhead Zaheer Khan. Zaheer played a pivotal role in shaping India’s ascent in overseas tours. He led India’s bowling attack after Anil Kumble retired from Test cricket in 2012.
“Ishant has played over 85 matches, and without any doubt, he shoulders the responsibility of being the senior-most bowler. He has done well so far. Zaheer and Ishant are two very different bowlers and it’s unfair to compare them,” Kumar signed off.
The 32-year-old has played six Tests for India, scalping 27 wickets at an average of 25.81, including a five-for at Lord’s. The Meerut-born pacer rose to prominence after his match-winning performance against Australia in the final of the 2007-08 CB Series before announcing his retirement in October this year.