Virat Kohli made me feel like a ‘punching bag’ - Justin Langer

Kohli’s on-field antics in India’s 2018-19 tour of Australia angered coach Langer, but he couldn’t be expressive about it.

Langer: “You must be feeling the double standards the way their captain is carrying on and we sort of have to be careful.”   -  Getty Images

Australian coach Justin Langer has revealed that he felt like a “punching bag” after Virat Kohli’s aggressive celebrations during India’s 2018-19 tour.

India, led by Kohli, enjoyed an unprecedented summer Down Under, winning the Border Gavaskar Trophy 3-1, its first-ever Test series win on Australian soil. It was followed by a 2-1 victory in the ODIs, while the T20 series ended in a 1-1 draw. During the series, Australia, determined to repair its severely dented image in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal, had decided not to engage with the Indian captain verbally during the series.

‘Hands behind our backs’

Kohli’s on-field antics angered Langer but he could not be expressive about it. “I remember that afternoon [feeling] like a punching bag. We can’t fight back because it felt like we had our hands behind our backs and we just had to take it,” Langer said in a recently released docu-series The Test.

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“You must be feeling the double standards the way their captain is carrying on and we sort of have to be careful. Imagine if we behaved two out of ten [for] that,” he said.

Langer asked his players to take on Kohli but warned the host not to cross the line between banter and abuse. “There is a difference between abuse and banter. There is no room for abuse. We don’t need to abuse him but there is banter where you stick up for your mate.”

‘My turn’

On Day Four of the second Test in Perth, Kohli and his Australian counterpart Tim Paine were involved in a verbal spat. That was time Paine thought he had enough. “I sort of just had enough and thought you also have to stand up for yourself and your team-mates and that was one of the reasons I thought, ‘no, I’m the captain, it’s my turn, I have to stand up and show him we’re here for the fight’,” Paine said.

Paine was at the receiving end just after he had gone out to bat. “If he messes it up, it’s 2-0. Who’s gonna talk then?” Kohli was caught saying by the stump microphones.

Paine did not hold himself back and replied “You’ve got to bat first, big head.”

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