Need to step up as a batting unit: Kohli

Need to step up as a batting unit: Kohli

CONFIDENT: Indian captain Virat Kohli said his team's batsmen must utilise the familiarity with the Australian conditions to good effect. AFP

Notwithstanding Australia’s weakened batting resources, India’s chances of pulling off their first Test series win Down Under will be viewed with skepticism when weighed against their batsmen’s performance in South Africa and England this year.

With the sole exception of Virat Kohli, no single batsman put on a consistent show with the bat that was the primary reason for their 1-2 (in South Africa) and 1-4 (England) humbling despite bowlers putting on exceptional shows on both tours. With Australia still possessing one of the sharpest attacks, there remains a question mark over Indian batsmen’s ability to cope with quality pace bowling. The batsmen can draw some encouragement from the familiarity of Australian conditions and their past performances.

Skipper Kohli and R Ashwin are on their third Test tour of Australia; M Vijay, K L Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara on their second visit and Rohit Sharma, who has travelled Down Under many a time, has a great record in white ball cricket.

Kohli’s record in Australia is second to none, having stacked up 992 runs in eight Tests (16 innings) in Australia with five hundreds and two fifties. The last time alone, he notched four hundreds with two of them coming in the Adelaide Test. Vijay amassed 482 runs at an average of 60.25 with a century and four-half-centuries. Rahane gathered 399 runs at 57 with a century and two half-centuries while Rahul, on his debut series, notched up a ton in Sydney after failing in Melbourne.

While India lost the 2014 series 0-2, their batting emerged unscathed. With their bowlers looking at their best shape on an Australian tour, Kohli believes they have the best chance to end their duck in 70 years.   

“It certainly will help the fact that we have played quite a few Test matches here before and scored runs,” admitted Kohli. “I think it’s even more important to know that you have performed in a place and you know how to get runs there. It’s all about remembering those good things that we did and applying it here.”

With pure pace no longer their fear factor, Indian batsmen seem to enjoy batting on Australian pitches where the Kookaburra ball loses its fizz after the initial 15-20 overs. Unlike the seaming and swinging conditions of South Africa and England, Australia poses them a relatively less tough questions if the batsmen are willing to grind it out.

“I know England and South Africa were tougher, (but) Australia can be a great place to bat if the batsmen apply themselves well,” Kohli emphasised. “But it takes character, it takes grinding out tough situations because, Australian team has got great skills, specially their bowling attack is really strong. So, they will challenge us a lot more. We will just have to ride that particular phase and then capitalise on sessions that go our way.

"So, I think as batsmen we are looking at those opportunities purely because we need to step up as a batting unit and we understand that. The bowlers are in great form as we all know, it’s just the collective performance that needs to go on a regular basis. It should not be in one-odd Test match. So, that’s a challenge we are looking forward to,” he observed.