Australia v India: How do the hosts stop Virat Kohli?

By Sports Desk December 04, 2018

As Australia and India prepare to do battle over four Tests across the next month, there remains one burning question: How do you stop Virat Kohli?

On his last tour Down Under in 2014-15, Kohli racked up 692 runs across four matches, his four hundreds and one fifty contributing to a stunning average of 86.50.

The only player to score more runs in that series, which the home side won 2-0, was Australia's Steve Smith - a man who will be conspicuous by his absence this time around as he continues to serve a suspension following the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town back in March.

His ban, as well as those handed down to David Warner and Cameron Bancroft in the wake of that fiasco, have left Australia's top order looking inexperienced and at times decidedly shaky.

But Justin Langer's side can take comfort from India's recent troubles in England, where they were thumped 4-1, as well as being able to call upon arguably the strongest bowling attack in world cricket.

So how will the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon quell the finest batsman on the planet? Omnisport enlisted the help of Opta to break down the numbers and perhaps offer a few pointers...

 

IT'S A NUMBERS GAME

- In 15 Tests against Australia, Kohli boasts an average of 50.84, slightly down on the figure for his career as a whole, which stands at 54.57.

- Across two tours, Kohli has played eight Tests Down Under, his superb series in 2014-15 improving his average on Australian soil to 62.

- In the 2011-12 series, it took Kohli six attempts to pass fifty, but he followed up that 75 with a century in Adelaide - the venue for the opening Test on Thursday.

 

SIDDLE TO LAY THE TRAP IN CORRIDOR OF UNCERTAINTY?

Former Australia quick Jason Gillespie has urged the bowling attack to maintain "a fourth-stump line, about bail high", to frustrate Kohli. Peter Siddle, recently recalled to the Test set-up after a two-year absence, could be just the man for the job.

- Siddle has sent down 280 deliveries to Kohli in Tests. Of those, the India batsman has played an attacking shot to just 15.7 per cent - lower than against any other member of the Australia squad. 

- During that period, Siddle has dismissed Kohli on four occasions for a strike rate of 70 - better than any of his team-mates, among those to have bowled more than one ball.

- It seems Siddle is perfectly suited to Gillespie's plea to try the patience of Kohli. The world's top-ranked Test batsman, when facing Siddle, plays a false shot at 23.1 per cent of deliveries - more than against any other member of this Australia team.

 

WELCOME TO THE LYON'S DEN

- Should Australia's seam attack prove unsuccessful, captain Tim Paine can turn to Lyon, who, along with James Anderson and Stuart Broad, has dismissed Kohli more often in Test cricket than anyone (five times).

- But Kohli has had his joy against the off-spinner, too, scoring 316 runs from Lyon's 553 deliveries at an average of 63.2.

- Perhaps more concerning for Lyon is Kohli's aggressive game plan. The India batsman has played an attacking stroke to 24.8 per cent of his balls from the man they call 'Garry' - more than against any other Australia bowler.

- That approach should give Lyon more opportunities to claim a wicket, but Kohli only plays a false shot at 11.9 per cent of deliveries from the off-spinner - roughly half as many as against Siddle.

 

CUMMINS THE GOLDEN ARM?

- Perhaps Pat Cummins is the answer! The right-arm quick has sent down just one delivery to Kohli, but it brought a wicket - an edge to second slip during the drawn third Test in Ranchi in March 2017.

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    Both Australia and India downplayed an incident between Tim Paine and Virat Kohli during day four of the second Test in Perth, insisting it was "just good banter" between the two captains.

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