Australia’s spin legend Shane Warne has heaped praise on Virat Kohli, saying that the Indian captain can go up there in the conversation involving Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara if he continues to bat like the way he is doing currently.
During the 2014 England tour, Kohli had aggregated only 134 runs at a dismal average of 13.40 in five Test matches. However, he was determined to turn things around on this occasion. The 29-year-old waged a lone battle in the first Test at Edgbaston, scoring a magnificent 149 in the first innings and followed it with a flawless 51 in the second dig.
Virat notched up his 23rd Test century during the Trent Bridge Test to help India register a thumping 203-run victory over England. The India skipper now has 58 centuries to his name in international cricket.
“For me, Lara and Sachin were the best of my times. For the best part of 23 years we had Kallis, Ponting Dravid, Sangakkara...all great players. And then we had two standouts, they were so much better, with no disrespect for the others. It’s hard to judge the greatness of Virat now as he is still playing, but when I see him I find he can go up there in the conversation involving Tendulkar and Lara. Is he the greatest ever? Well you can’t say that now unless he plays in all conditions against all players in all formats over a long period of time. But at the present moment, Virat is the best batsman who can play all formats,” Warne told The Times of India.
Warne offered a piece of advice for India opener KL Rahul, who looks to have found his touch at Trent Bridge after struggling in the first two Tests. Warne suggested Rahul to go after James Anderson and break his rhythm in the initial overs.
“The one thing I would love to see is KL Rahul going after Jimmy Anderson. If I was part of the Indian management, I would like to tell Rahul to try and take Jimmy down. Jimmy is fantastic in these conditions and if he has his tail up, it’s difficult to deal with him. The better the bowler, the more aggressive you have to be,” the Aussie great opined.
Wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav was left out from India’s 18-member squad for the last two Tests against England. Kuldeep returned with the figures of 0/44 from nine overs in the second Test on a pacer-friendly Lord’s pitch. However, Warne believes it is harsh to drop the chinaman from the squad after just one failure.
“Kuldeep is very good. It’s a shame that he has been sent back to India. He should have played this Test and the next one at the Oval where it spins. With a bit of wrist spin and a bit of mystery, he would have had a lot of success,” he opined.
Warne, who claimed 708 Test wickets in his Test career, also advised India’s leading off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to be more patient and formulate newer ways to flourish in the alien conditions.
“As far as Ashwin is concerned, he should be a bit more patient. He has to understand five wickets won’t come everyday and he has to find ways to do well in conditions that don’t suit him,” the 48-year-old said.
Warne is happy with the re-emergence of wrist-spinners in international cricket but he also reckons that the modern day batsmen do not have the ability to deal with quality spinners.
“It’s great that spin bowling can be a big weapon in all conditions, not just wrist spinners but finger spinners, leftarm spinners too. But I have to say batsmen of today are not playing spin bowling that well and that includes Indians,” Shane Warne remarked.
“I don’t know. It has probably to do with T20 where they look to smash them all the time. The batsmen are losing the subtlety of playing spin, going back into the crease, manipulating the field for a single, the way [Rahul] Dravid, Mark Waugh or [Sachin] Tendulkar used to do. Now it’s either block it or hit it,” he concluded.