Langer hails ‘great’ India-Australia rivalry ahead of Adelaide Test

From a plan for Kohli to countering India's impact players with their own arsenal, Justin Langer warns that the Aussies have learnt from two years ago ahead of the first Test on Thursday.

Langer: No one can argue that it wasn't exciting cricket (during the limited-overs leg), but it was played in the right spirit through the ODIs and T20s and I hope that remains.   -  Getty Images

Australia coach Justin Langer on Tuesday hailed the “great rivalry” between India and Australia, while alluding to the Baggy Greens’ 2-1 Test series win against India in their backyard in 2004 as a watershed moment of his playing career.

“This is a great series, a great rivalry that has been built up for a long time between Australia and India... A great rivalry for world cricket, I think,” Langer said at a virtual media interaction.

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Mt Everest

“I’ve said many times, beating India in India in 2004 was the Mt Everest of my career because we knew how hard it was!” Langer said. “In the past, India has found it hard to win over here (in Australia). I guess I’ve never heard Virat (Kohli) say it, but beating us over here last time (2018-19)... These moments are very important in each of our cricket, whether as individuals or as a collective experience.”

Langer credited the Indian Premier League (IPL) with promoting a sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship among the players. “I also love the way the game is played. No one can argue that it wasn’t exciting cricket (during the limited-overs leg), but it was played in the right spirit through the ODIs (One-Day Internationals) and T20s (Twenty20s) and I hope that remains.

“We will play tough cricket, but in the spirit it’s meant to be played. That’s one of the benefits of the IPL, I think. The guys get to know each other. There’s a good relationship... All things said, I can’t wait... Bring it on Thursday!”
The Virat showdown

The Adelaide game, the first of the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy, will be the first time India is playing a day/night Test away from home. India’s only previous pink-ball match was against Bangladesh in Kolkata in 2019.

It will also be the only time India captain Kohli will play Test cricket Down Under this summer as he will return home to attend the birth of his first child after the game ends on December 21.

Asked about Australia’s plans to approach Kohli the batsman and how to engage him if he gets fired up, Langer said, “What we talk about is how to get Virat out. He is such a great player. We don’t talk about whether we taunt him or not. That’s rubbish... We play on the skill, not on emotions. At least, we try to,” Langer said.

READ: India vs Australia in Tests Bowling records: Most wickets, best bowling figures and most catches

Great respect

“He is a great player and an equally great leader. I have got so much respect for him, but we are going to be really well-planned for him because we know how important he is for India as a leader and as a batsman. So, we will have our plans in place. The next trick is to execute them, hopefully, keep him out of the game with his runs. At the end of the day, that’s where he is going to have the biggest impact. We’ve seen a lot of him now, and he has seen a lot of us too.

“So, it’ll be an amazing contest. It’s almost mouthwatering for cricket lovers to see Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Michael Neser, James Pattinson or Nathan Lyon bowling to Virat Kohli... I can’t wait. Just like (Jasprit) Bumrah and (Mohammed) Shami bowling to our batters. It’s going to be a great contest come Thursday.”



World-class spinners

Langer also weighed in on the lead spinners from both camps, Lyon and Ravichandran Ashwin, and the kind of impact they could have when all the talk has been focused on the tearaway quicks of India and Australia leading into the Adelaide game.

“They are both world-class off-spinners. Nathan Lyon is incredibly important to our team. I can’t talk for India, but Lyon is coming up to his 100th Test match. We know the kind of impact he has had on the current Indian team. I think he has dismissed them more than any other player from our team. So, we are very fortunate to have him as part of our XI,” Langer said.

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Lyon is currently 10 wickets short of becoming only the sixth spinner in the world to go past the 400-wicket mark in Test cricket. Meanwhile, his Indian counterpart Ashwin has started in the XI on the last three tours outside Asia and has 365 wickets against his name.

“It’ll be up to our batters to have plans against each of their bowlers. Ravi (Ashwin) is no different. He is a gun. But be assured, our guys have hopefully learnt from two years ago.

“We talk about constantly improving and learning. They’ll have their plans in place... Whether you are a left- or a right-hander, everyone will play it differently. We are lucky to have an experienced batting lineup now. By the time they walk out to the middle, as a coach, I’ll be very hopeful they will have plans in place.”

Langer on Cameron Green

"If he's passed fit he'll definitely play. We are just going through the protocols. He had another test this morning which we got good news on. He's a terrific young bloke, obviously an excellent talent, he's earned the right for selection through his performances. It's very exciting for Australian cricket for him and his family."