There are some players you don't mess with. Period.
Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif in a YouTube video has said that the opposition team would be better off if they don’t engage with Indian captain Virat Kohli in a verbal duel.
Latif recalled India’s series in Australia in 2014, which was when Kohli took over the Test captaincy from M.S. Dhoni after the latter retired from the longest format of the game before the fourth and final Test of the series in Adelaide.
India lost the match but came close to chasing their second innings target of 364 thanks to Kohli’s 141. In the first innings, he scored 115. The Australians, particularly fast bowler Mitchell Johnson were sledging Kohli throughout the series and the Indian captain ended up taking Johnson to the cleaners.
“In 2014 series, when Dhoni retired after two Tests. Then there was one Test, in which Virat Kohli scored two tons in each innings. In that match, Mitchell Johnson stepped up to Kohli, and you will see Kohli’s reaction was not defensive,” said Latif.
“There are some players you don’t mess with. We had Javed (Miandad), Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar. Today, Virat Kohli is one such player.”
Latif then gave the example of India’s recent T20I series against the West Indies. Kohli was irked by fast bowler Kesrick Williams’ notebook celebration, which the latter had used on him in a 2017 T20I in Jamaica.
India needed a whopping 208 runs to win and ended up chasing it down with eight balls in hand thanks to Kohli’s 94 off 50 balls. He imitated Williams’ notebook celebration at one point after hitting a six off the fast bowler.
“Recently, in a T20I match against West Indies, a left-arm pacer (actually, it was a right-arm pacer Kesrick Williams) said some words to him. Even though, Kohli does not score too many runs in T20Is, but he went on to play a great innings in that match. There are certain players you don’t mess with during a match,” Latif said.
Meanwhile, Aussie Test skipper Tim Paine has rubbished Michael Clarke's claims that the team "sucked up to India" and were nice to Virat Kohli during the 2018-19 Test series in Australia so as to ensure good deals when the Indian Premier League comes around.
"I certainly didn't notice too many people being that nice to Virat or not trying to get him out or anything like that," Paine told ESPNcricinfo.
India won the series 2-1, thus making them the first Asian team to beat Australia Down Under in a Test series.
"I thought everyone who had the ball in their hand or when we were batting were trying their absolute best to win the game for Australia. I'm not sure who was going easy on him; we certainly had a thing where we didn't want to provoke any fight with him because we think that's when he plays at his best," Paine said.
Kohli scored more runs than any Australian batsman but was the third highest run scorer among the Indians with Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara finishing above him. The series formed a significant part of the Amazon Prime documentary that was released recently which depicted the team's journey from the 2018 ball tampering scandal to them retaining the Ashes in 2019.
The next Test series between the two nations is scheduled to take place when India tour Australia later in the year, provided the situation around coronavirus permits a series to take place.
"Who knows what will happen this series and, as we saw in the documentary, there was still quite a lot of heat in some of those games. I certainly wasn't holding back, but again the IPL's not a huge draw for me at the moment, so I had nothing to lose," Paine said.
"But anytime our guys go out and play a Test match for Australia, they'll be giving their absolute all and I'm pretty sure they're not thinking about an IPL contract when they're running in, bowling to Virat."
With IANS inputs