Australia 2020 could be the best Test series in past five-six years: Kohli

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“It’ll be a challenge for us to break through that batting order but it’s a challenge we should look forward to.” © AFP

It’s a bit impolite to talk about India’s tour of Australia right now. A three-match ODI series between the two sides stares us in the face before a whole year has to go by for the first of the four Tests to even feel real, but such has been the build-up to that Australian summer of 2020 that Australia captain, Tim Paine, already called it “mouth-watering”. It’s not going to be a “revenge” series for them, Paine has said in the backdrop of a 2-1 series loss in 2018-19.

It’s Virat Kohli’s turn to look forward now. The Indian captain has gone one step ahead of Paine and argued that the Test series could be the “best series we’ve seen in the past five-six years”, partly because they expect the hosts to mount a tougher challenge in terms of batting.

“Having won last year, that gives us a lot more confidence going back,” Kohli said in Mumbai on Monday (January 13). “This time around the series is going to be different, in terms of their batting challenging our bowlers. To be fair, last time around, the players were not that experienced. If you take out David (Warner) and Steve (Smith)… Marnus (Labuschagne) came in but he played only one game. The way he’s shaped up in the last summer, it’s amazing – so much consistency it always good to watch at the international level – and the hunger and passion, you can see in his game.

“It’ll be a challenge for us to break through that batting order but it’s a challenge we should look forward to. We should not look forward to easy games and going to Australia, you should not expect anything easy. We want to keep challenging ourselves as a team and we’re the top two sides in the table as well, in the world championship. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing for people to watch because the series will be right up there with any of the best series we’ve seen in the past five-six years. We’re pretty excited for it.”

Kohli also reiterated his openness to play a day-night Test in Australia, something they weren’t keen to do on their last tour there. Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts has already vouched for India’s inclination to play a pink-ball Test this time around, and how the likelihood of India making the World Test Championship finals allows more room for a day-night Test on the tour.

There’s also been some noise around the opening venue for India, which has been Adelaide for the last two tours, but Kohli asserted that the venues — “be it Gabba or Perth” — doesn’t matter to them nor does the colour of the ball.

“We played the day-night Test here, we were pretty happy with how it went,” Kohli reasoned. “It’s become a very exciting feature of any Test series and we’re open to playing day-night Tests. We’re ready and up for the challenge whether it’s Gabba, Perth.. it doesn’t matter to us. We have the skillset as a team now to compete against anyone in the world, anywhere, in any format of the game. Whether it’s white ball, red ball or pink ball, we’re ready to play anything.”

Cricket Australia is yet to decide on the venues for the four Tests, let alone the nature of the Test matches played. There’s uncertainty around the Boxing Day and New Year’s Test too, with Kevin Roberts stating that “no specific Test anywhere around the country is locked in into the future”. There is of course time for logistics and scheduling but not for cricket preparations. They seem to have begun already.

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