Ind vs Aus 2017: Why sledging Virat Kohli would be the last thing in Steve Smith's mind
Virat Kohli, who has been in sensational form across formats in the last few years, loves to play against Australia and Steve Smith's men need to come up with mind-boggling strategies to stop Indian skipper's record-shattering spree.
Not long ago, as part of their preparations prior to an upcoming series, Australians were known to create pressure on the minds of the batsmen from opposition through sledging. The likes of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne would target the best batsmen and get into a verbal war, much ahead of the series. The interesting part was that they would often back their words by troubling those players successfully in terms of play too and end up dismissing them time and time again.
But ahead of the four-match Test series against India, the Australian camp is certainly under severe pressure, thanks to the incredible form of one man - Virat Kohli. While the Aussie think tank would be busy planning strategies to stop the Indian skipper's record-breaking spree, sledging Kohli should be the last thing in their minds.
From Steve Waugh to Mitchell Johnson, Ricky Ponting to Steve Smith, everybody is wary of the flamboyant right-hander, who has taken the cricketing world by storm as a result of his unbelievable consistency across formats in the last few years. Kohli has been strengthening his case as India's most aggressive skipper till date and he doesn't hesitate in holding the bull by its horns. In fact, an interaction or altercation, only adds fuel to fire and brings out the best in him. He is a skipper's nightmare with his in-your-face attitude.
Keeping Kohli's current form aside, what would be haunting Smith's men the most is what he did to them when India toured Australia last time (in 2014).
Prior to that tour, Kohli had a forgettable series against England, where the pacers troubled him with the off-stump line as he was regularly caught in the slips. In a series which India lost 1-3, the Delhi batsman looked a shadow of himself where he managed to score only 134 runs from 10 innings, at a forgettable average of 13.40. James Anderson and Stuart Broad exposed his weakness outside the off-stump and dismissed him frequently.
Considering that India had to play another four-match series away from home towards the end of the year, against Australia, all eyes were on Kohli since playing against Australia brings out the best in him. Led by Mitchell Johnson, Aussies had two more formidable pacers in Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, who would have for sure done their homework against him.
But all that proved futile as Kohli transformed his technique completely since his debacle in England and reached Australia after ironing his flaws. While Johnson welcomed him to the tour with a nasty first-ball bouncer which hit him on the helmet, instead of losing his cool, Kohli let his bat do the talking and went on to hit a century.
It was a remarkable series for Kohli, who went on to score four centuries in the tour. He amassed 692 runs in the four Tests, which included four hundreds and one fifty.
The highlight of the tour was the body language of Indian players. When Steve Smith tried to get into a scuffle with one of the Indian fielders, Kohli wasted no time in going to him and asking, "You have an issue with everyone?...Stay in your limits!"
Kohli left the Australian soil with his head held high and with plenty of scars for the hosts.
That series against Australia was possibly the turning point of Kohli's Test career. While many might credit his recent purple patch to India's long home season, the Aussies would be very well aware that it began against them, towards the end of 2014 on their home soil.