Grass on wicket good news, says Virat Kohli

Ahead of the second Test in Perth, India captain Virat Kohli is keen to exploit the lively wicket with the fast bowlers at their peak. The chances are equal.

Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami inspect the pitch at the new Perth Stadium on Thursday.   -  Getty Images

Talk at Virat Kohli’s press-conference here on Thursday, centred around India’s pace attack and how the unit could excel on a green-tinged pitch at the Optus Stadium. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In another era, conversations about pitches at Perth, would be about opposition leaders being a touch nervous.

Times have changed, Australia is enfeebled by the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner and India has incisive fast bowlers on par with Australia’s Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. The tale is now about India’s speedsters matching their counterparts and the visiting captain fired a cheeky volley: “I am pretty happy to see the pitch the way it is, I hope no more grass is taken off it!”

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Referring to India’s triumph against South Africa at Johannesburg’s Wanderers this January, Kohli stressed that the pitch there was the fastest he had played upon. Equally, he sought to play down the speed-demons residing within the pitch here ahead of the second Test from Friday: “I have played around the world for 10 years and I have never played on a wicket like the one at Johannesburg. I have played at Perth in 2012 but that was not close to Johannesburg. We are not alien to pitches like these. On a lively wicket where there is grass and the surface is hard, you are in the game as much as the opposition. Whichever team is brave enough to tackle these conditions, wins. We are confident about the percentage of chances we have. Australia is going to be strong on a wicket like Perth. As I said we have an equal chance.”

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Kohli also played down the feeling of being overawed by the size of the new venue: “This looks pretty much like the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). We have played in very big stadiums before. The stadium is beautiful and we are looking forward to getting on the park.”

The Indian skipper felt grateful to have a pack of fast bowlers under his watch: “We certainly get more excited than nervous looking at lively pitches. We understand that we have a bowling attack that can bowl out the opposition now. Because we have so much belief in our bowling unit, we know that if we bat well, we will get the result we want. We cannot be complacent and be satisfied with just one win. We need to keep repeating the good things to win a series.”

Kohli played the diplomat when asked about the DRS and Sunil Gavaskar’s remarks against Rishabh Pant for sledging Pat Cummins in the first Test. The India captain felt that the DRS is fine but needs technological tweaks and as for Pant’s chatter, ‘no line was crossed.’