Australia v India: Kohli promises ‘high voltage’ action
India captain Virat Kohli has promised “high voltage” action in the four-Test series against Australia, which gets under way in Adelaide on Thursday.
The hosts are looking to avenge a 2-1 defeat on home soil two years ago, when they were missing Steve Smith and David Warner after the ball-tampering affair.
Both sides are without some key players because of injury.
Before the day-night Test, Kohli said: “It is definitely going to be as competitive as it has always been.”
Warner misses the first Test with an adductor injury, while India are awaiting the arrival of batsman Rohit Sharma. Fast bowler Ishant Sharma has been ruled out of the whole tour.
India’s win two years ago, their first series success in Australia, was occasionally a bad-tempered contest.
“It’s going to be high-voltage cricket because we have quality players on both sides and they are all hungry and eager to perform,” added Kohli, who will only play in the first Test before returning home for the birth of his first child.
“There’s going to be tension, there’s going to be stress, there’s going to be emotions flaring every now and then, but I don’t foresee anything getting personal anymore.”
Australia are currently top of the International Cricket Council Test Championship, with India second. Both sides can make big progress towards securing their place in the final, which is in England next summer.
In the limited-overs matches before the Tests, Australia won the one-day series 2-1, while India took the T20s by the same scoreline.
Paine plays down Smith concerns
Australia’s preparations have not only been hit by the injury to Warner, but also a concussion suffered by uncapped Will Pucovski, who would have been in line to fill the vacancy at the top of the order.
Matthew Wade now looks set to partner Joe Burns in opening the batting, but there was a further concern when number-one ranked Test batsman Steve Smith failed to net on Tuesday because of a back problem.
“His preparation has been very good,” said home captain Tim Paine. “He’s batted for the last week since we’ve been in Adelaide. So for him to have a day off might actually be a blessing in disguise.
“Whether he’s fit and sore in the back, or stiff in the back, I think he normally gets up, gets through it and finds a way to score runs like he always does.”
Australia are set to give a debut to 21-year-old all-rounder Cameron Green, who himself has recovered from a concussion.
Much excitement surrounds Green, who averages 55 with the bat and 21 with the ball in first-class cricket, often bowling at high pace.
“We know that when he does bowl he’ll make an impact, that’s what we have seen from him and that’s what we expect him to do again,” said Paine.
India take step into the unknown
India have only played a day-night Test once before, a home defeat of Bangladesh, and face a huge task against an Australia team that have won all seven of their day-nighters, five of which have been in Adelaide.
Not only that, but they do so knowing this will be their only Test with talismanic skipper Kohli in charge.
They will also be without Rohit, who has been suffering with a hamstring injury, for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, but he could be available for the matches in Sydney and Brisbane.
With Rohit unavailable, Prithvi Shaw has been chosen to open the batting with Mayank Agarwal, while the experienced Wriddhiman Saha has been given the nod to keep wicket ahead of Rishabh Pant.
R Ashwin is chosen ahead of Ravindra Jadeja to fill the spinner’s berth, while Umesh Yadav joins Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami in the three-man pace attack.
“A pink-ball Test is probably going to be a bit more challenging in terms of conditions and how the ball moves around in the evening,” said Kohli.
“For us, it’s about being able to adapt to different conditions. You can take inspiration from the past but I don’t think that guarantees anything and we have to stay in the present.” (BBC Sport)