Kohli has led the way for ‘new’ India - Allan Border

Virat Kohli’s run-scoring ability transcends formats, points out Australia’s 1987 World Cup-winning captain.

Allan Border hands the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to Virat Kohli in Sydney after India's 2-1 win Down Under in 2018-19. - REUTERS

Virat Kohli has led the way in India’s approach to the modern game of cricket, former Australia captain Allan Border said in a select media interaction on Thursday, even joking that he would love to see the India skipper don Australian colours.

“I would love to be in a cricket team with Virat. If he wants to come and play for Australia, he is more than welcome,” Border said, laughing. “We were thinking he might think about having his newborn baby here because we can claim his offspring as Australian.”

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“Look, I love the way he plays his game; he wears his heart on his sleeve. I like his aggression and passion for the game. India as a team will miss that [once he leaves]... He is a special player, has serious talent and is part of this ‘new’ India – that’s the way I look at it. The way India play the modern game, they have a very positive mindset, and Virat has led the way very well in those areas. I am a big fan,” the 1987 World Cup-winning captain said.

India’s tour Down Under will start with the first of three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) on November 27, followed by three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) and the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Kohli will miss three out of the four Tests as he is due to return home for the birth of his first child.

Seamless transition

Border stressed that Kohli’s run-scoring ability transcends formats and said it is proof enough that he belongs in the pantheon of great Indian batsmen. “I like the way he can change his game between different formats. I think, if you go back in time when I was playing against someone like Sunil Gavaskar, we just had to bring only one type of game to the table,” Border said.

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“We were brought up to play long-form cricket... If you look at Virat, he has done equally well in T20s, ODIs and Tests. There are a few of those who do it well around the world – Steve Smith, David Warner and AB de Villiers... That’s why I rate Virat so highly, because it’s not easy to chop and change your game plan... So, for me, he is right up there in the top echelon of Indian cricketers.”

Lack of game time

India recorded its first Test series win in Australia on the 2018-19 tour, winning the four-match series 2-1. Cheteshwar Pujara struck three centuries, racking up 521 runs in seven innings at an average of 74.43. However, he hasn’t played any cricket since the Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal in Rajkot in March, and Border feels the lack of game time can be a hindrance for the right-hander.

“I would like to be playing more. [I] never liked too much of a break between games during my playing days. Someone like Pujara loves batting so much, I would imagine he would be going crazy without it. What he’s effectively going to do is go from a nets session into facing Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins with the new ball. That’s going to be hard work.”

(India’s first ODI against Australia will be telecast live at 8am, November 27, on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3 and Sony Six channels.)

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