Australia head coach Justin Langer has heaped praise on Virat Kohli, saying the talismanic batsman is “probably the best player” he has seen in his life, adding that the absence of the Indian skipper will have an impact on the upcoming Test series.
“Virat Kohli is probably the best player I’ve ever seen in my life for so many reasons, not only batting but his energy and passion for the game, the way he fields,” Langer told reporters on Friday by video conference.
“I cannot believe he displays the energy he does in everything he does and I’ve got so much respect for him. I’ve also got respect for him in the sense that he’s made this decision (to return for the birth),” he added.
Kohli’s wife, actor Anushka Sharma, is due for delivery in January and the batting mainstay will return to India after the conclusion of the first Test against Australia to be played at the Adelaide Oval from December 17. However, he will take part in the limited-overs series, which consist of three ODIs and as many T20Is.
“He’s a human being like all of us… if I was giving advice to any of my players I would always say never, ever miss the birth of your children because it is one of the great things you’ll ever do,” said the Australia head coach.
“Of course it will have an impact (his absence), but we also know that India beat us last time (in 2018-19). They’re a very, very good team, we cannot get complacent for a second with or without Virat,” he added.
Meanwhile, off-spinner Nathan Lyon wants to make the most of his one crack at Kohli this summer and “get him out cheaply” in the only Test the Indian skipper will feature.
“It’s disappointing for the series. You want to play against the best players in the world,” Lyon was quoted as saying by news.com.au.
“I believe he is the best player in the world along with Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. It’s disappointing but they have still got superstars,” he added.
However, Lyon believes Australia cannot be complacent because Kohli’s absence doesn’t mean the home team would walk away with the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
“Look at (Cheteshwar) Pujara, (Ajinkya) Rahane, and they have also got a couple of young guys coming in. It’s still going to be a massive challenge for us,” said the 32-year-old off-spinner.
“Just because Virat’s not here doesn’t mean we get to hold the trophy up. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, a lot of homework to do,” he added.
The tour will commence with the three ODIs at the Sydney Cricket Ground (November 27, 29) and Manuka Oval, Canberra (December 2). That will be followed by the three-match T20I series at Manuka Oval, Canberra (December 4) and the Sydney Cricket Ground (December 6, 8).
Team India will then begin the title defence of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with the pink-ball Test in Adelaide from December 17. It will be followed by Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26), the SCG (January 7) and the Gabba (January 15).