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Kohli not fazed by potential green top in Perth

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Virat Kohli feels lively wickets aren’t anything new for his team and India are more excited than nervous to play on such surfaces.

India’s 31 run victory in the first Test in Adelaide was a reversal from their first Test on the last away tour – to England – where they had lost the Edgbaston Test by the same margin.

What followed Edgbaston was a lively wicket at Lord’s where India barely managed to pass 100 in both innings as England secured a massive innings victory. A day out from the second Test against Australia the pitch at the Perth International Cricket Stadium, which is set to host its first Test, bears a green top, but Kohli and his team aren’t nervous at all.

India have experienced challenging batting conditions throughout the year. They started 2018 with a tour to South Africa where the final Test was played on a Johannesburg wicket that Kohli described as unlike any wicket he’s played on before.

“I have played all around the world in the last 10 years and I haven’t played on a pitch like Johannesburg,” Kohli said.

“I have also played in Perth, that was in 2012, but that was not even close to what Johannesburg was. We are not alien to pitches like these. We have played many times in the past on pitches like this. So it’s nothing new for us.”

With a bowling attack that has grown leaps and bounds this year, Kohli feels India will be as much in the game as Australia. “We know what to expect on a pitch like this and as I said that on a lively wicket with a lot of grass on it and surface being hard, you are as much in the game as the opposition,” he said.

“There are no favourites to win a Test match. Whichever team plays well and whichever team is brave enough to tackle those conditions, wins on those wickets.

“We are definitely confident of the percentage of chances that we have and we are going to build on that. Obviously, Australia are going to be a strong team in their home conditions and on a wicket like Perth which probably offers you more than other pitches in Australia, but we have an equal chance of winning.”

India played four bowlers at Adelaide and didn’t need any contribution from a fifth bowler to take 20 wickets. 14 out of those 20 wickets were taken by fast bowlers, who have made up an attack that’s now rated on a par with the best in the world.

“I am just lucky that they are at their peak when I am captain,” Kohli said of his pacers. “I haven’t gone scouting for them and picked up five people. They have been playing for a while and it’s just that they have come to their own at the time that I am captain.

“So I am not going to sit here and take credit for unleashing someone because they have been working on their game and am really happy to have guys that are at the peak of their powers.”

In all three Tests in South Africa and three out of five Tests in England, India picked up 20 wickets and that’s something Kohli sees as imperative to win a Test match regardless of the number of runs batsmen score.

“If you don’t take 20 wickets, you don’t win a Test match, regardless of your scoring 700 or 800 runs. It’s insignificant,” Kohli said.

“If you score 300 and you have guys who can pick 20 wickets, you’re absolutely fine as a team. The way they have bowled on the last three tours… it’s amazing to see how hungry they are to get 20 wickets.

“We certainly get more excited than nervous looking at lively pitches now. We saw the pitch and we were happy to see the grass on it. We wanted it to have even more grass than Adelaide. When you have fast bowlers who are at the peak of their abilities, it is always a great thing to have in the side.”

And it’s not just the bowlers who will be in the game. The batsmen too have an opportunity to put in significant performances, Kohli feels.

“For us, as batsmen, it also gives us a lot of motivation and boosts us up that we can put in those match-winning significant batting performances because we have so much belief in our bowling unit right now,” he said.

“We understand that if we bat well, we will definitely get the result that we want. It’s a very exciting phase to be in.”

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