Monday, April 19

‘The best player I’ve seen in my life’: Langer in awe of star India batsman

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India’s much-awaited tour of Australia is just around the corner. India’s full-fledged tour of Australia will start November 27 with the ODIs, followed by three T20I matches on December 4, 6 and 8. The four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy will begin in Adelaide with India and Australia set to play their maiden Day/Night Test against each other.

India beat Australia 2-1 in Tests the last time they toured Down Under, but this time around, the challenge will be different altogether, primarily for two reasons – the availability of Steve Smith and David Warner, who weren’t playing in 2018/19 and the absence of Virat Kohli. The India captain will be returning home after playing the first of the four Tests ahead of the birth of his and wife Anushka Sharma’s child.

The absence of Kohli promises to tilt the balance in Australia’s favour, reckons head coach Justin Langer. Kohli was India’s leading run-getter during the 2014/15 series with 692 runs and the second leading run-scorer in 2018-19 series with 292 runs. Calling Kohli ‘the best he’s ever seen,’ Langer pointed out it’s tough not to be happy knowing that Kohli will miss three Tests.

“I’ve said this before, he is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons,” Langer told reporters in a video call.

“It’s not only his batting but his energy, his passion for the game, the way he fields. I cannot believe the energy he displays in everything he does. Are we happy he’s not playing? It’s like taking Dustin Martin out of Richmond, isn’t it?” added Langer, referring to the champion Australian Rules footballer.

With Kohli out, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is likely to take charge of the team. The addition of Rohit Sharma to India’s Test side promises to bolster the side but Kohli is a different kettle of fish and not having him around for the most part of the Test series is surely going to affect India, feels Langer.

“Of course it’ll have an impact but we also know that India, they beat us last time, they’re a very, very good team,” he said. “We cannot get complacent for a second with or without Virat. So we’re going to have to be on our toes all summer and we’re looking forward to that.”