Australia’s spin legend Shane Warne is currently in India and enjoying every bit of the ongoing IPL. Warne, who is mentoring the Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2018, believes that the Indian side under the leadership of Virat Kohli are the ultimate team to beat in world cricket today.
The spin king event went on to label the Indian cricket team as favourites for their tour Down Under later this year.
In an exclusive interview with India Today, Warne said: "They have an all round team with all bases covered. Usually when India used to come to Australia in the past when I was playing, they would struggle on those fast bouncy pitches. Their fast bowling was ok but not as good as their spin. Now we are seeing some of their fast bowlers are as good as any in the world. So on those fast bouncy pitches, Virat does not have to concentrate on just spin, they also have some excellent fast bowlers. When things are not happening, they have got reverse swing, pace, they can use short ball and they have their spin and their batting.”
“They are a proven side. I think India for the first time especially with no Smith and Warner will go in as favourites in a long time, if not ever against Australia, later in the year," he added.
With the motive to improve his batting performances in England, Kohli has opted to play county cricket for Surrey in June. Even though Virat has conquered more or less every condition with his willow, he has not been able to perform at his best in England. With just 134 runs in five Test matches at a dismal average of 13.40, doing well in England is a top priority for the India captain.
Talking about Kohli’s forthcoming challenges in England and Australia, Warne opined: "India face England first; perhaps the only place which Virat hasn't yet nailed. And I think he will nail England this year. I think Virat will have an unbelievable series in England which will hold him in good stead in Australia also. He played beautifully in Australia in the last tour. His knock at Adelaide was nearly match winning. Jeez! he played well. I love to see Virat Kohli play."
"Virat and AB De Villiers are the two standout batsmen in all formats. I would throw Steve Smith in there in Test cricket. Watching Virat play in England and then on the fast bouncy pitches in Australia is what I am looking forward to," he further remarked.
When asked about the million-dollar question whether he rates Virat in the league of the great Sachin Tendulkar yet, Shane Warne asserted: "I think the way Virat plays and you look at his numbers and it's uncanny how many times he has got hundreds in ODI cricket chasing totals down. I don't think anyone, not even Sachin could do what Virat's done.”
“We know Sachin and Brian Lara were the two best players of all time in our generation. But Virat and AB de Villiers; it's very difficult to separate those guys. Virat is as good as anyone that I have seen play the game. Wonderful, terrific player, I love his energy and passion. I am sure when he finishes in ten years or so he will be spoken about in the same breath as Sachin," he elaborated.
On being probed about the Indian captain’s decision to skip the Afghanistan Test for his county commitments, Warne said: "It's a one off Test against Afghanistan and you should always try to play a Test match as much as you can. But I think it's a brave and courageous decision from Virat and shows how important the England series is for him and his team.”
“He hasn't nailed England before; Jimmy Anderson has had his number. So I don't mind Virat missing this one off-Test match. If it was a series, the captain should be there. I am also very happy that Rahane is captaining that Test side. It's fantastic for Jinx and I am happy and proud for him," he concluded.