Saturday, 3 January 2015 03:33
Virat Kohli’s chief combatant Mitchell Johnson believes India’s new skipper is set to bring a fresh, aggressive approach to the way his country plays cricket.
Kohli and Johnson have locked horns continuously throughout the Test series so far and, sledging aside, the Australian quick expects the 24-year-old’s “in your face” approach to the game to spill over into his captaincy.
And with it a new attacking mindset for the team.
Following MS Dhoni’s surprise decision to retire from Test cricket after the drawn MCG Test, Kohli assumed the fulltime captaincy ahead of fourth and final Test in Sydney, beginning on Tuesday.
Dhoni was often criticised for his conservative approach to leadership, but Johnson feels Kohli will steer India in a very different direction.
“It could be quite interesting because they’re not known for that aggressive type of play,” Johnson said.
“But ever since I’ve seen him play cricket, I’ve always seen him pretty fiery. So he’ll definitely be an aggressive type of captain I think in the way he sets fields, and I think you’ll see a lot different to what MS did. He’s an interesting character. He is a fierce competitor and he really does like to get involved in it all.”
Kohli has stood toe-to-toe with the Australians, in particular Johnson and Brad Haddin, throughout the series and his ascension to the captaincy could see India adopt a front-foot approach to the game similar to the home side’s.
Dhoni implored the teams to “tone down” the verbal barbs, in his last press conference as India skipper after the MCG draw.
This tour Kohli has backed up his words with action, scoring 499 runs at 83.13 in the series so far.
“It doesn’t matter who he plays against, he plays in your face and that is how he likes to play the game,” Johnson said.
Kohli first captained India in Adelaide, when Dhoni was absent due to an injured thumb.
The Australians expect Kohli to continue the onfield chit-chit at the SCG regardless of his new leadership role. “It’s just harmless stuff, that’s out there,” Johnson said.
“There’s a lot of talk out in the media at the moment as bad sledging and pretty full on stuff but it’s all pretty harmless. Virat’s just been telling us how many runs he’s scored and we’ve just been saying we’re two nil up in the series so that’s pretty much it. It’s always been part of the game and always will be.”
The 2008 SCG Test marked a low point between the teams with allegations of poor sportsmanship and racism - a situation both India and Australia will be keen not to revisit next week.