Pace legend Glenn McGrath has backed Virat Kohli to use all his experience and negate the English pace-bowling threat in India’s upcoming tour of England. However, he said he expects seasoned campaigner James Anderson to make life difficult for the touring captain.
The 48-year-old former Australian player also said Kohli needs to work hard in order to achieve success in what is already one of the most-anticipated cricket fixtures this summer.
Nonetheless, McGrath stressed on the need for India to not be reliant on their captain alone when it comes to the responsibility of scoring runs in foreign conditions.
“Kohli is a more experienced player now. Quality player, no doubt about that. But English conditions are very tough. When you have got a bowler like Jimmy Anderson, who is bowling well now, it is going to be hard work. You got to be prepared to work hard,” McGrath was quoted as saying by The Press Trust of India.
“Kohli is a quality player so I am looking forward to that contest,” the pace great added.
“However, it also gives another batsman a chance to put his hand up and there are still some quality batsmen there, some quality players there. If India are really depending on one player, they have got it wrong.”
Given India’s poor record in England in the ongoing decade (4-0 in 2011, 3-1 in 2014), there is considerable pressure on captain Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri as they face one of the biggest challenges in their quest for world dominance.
Kohli himself suffered a poor patch when India last toured England in 2014. Even as MS Dhoni’s men struggled in conditions conducive to swing and seam bowling, the Delhi batsman’s below-par performances (134 runs in 10 innings at 13.40) became one of the biggest talking points of the tour.
The celebrated Indian batsman became Anderson’s bunny as the English pacer dismissed him four times in five matches. The right-arm pacer asked questions of Kohli’s mental toughness by brilliantly exploiting the batsman’s weakness outside the off-stump.
With an eye on erasing the scars of the 2014 tour, Kohli was gearing up for a county stint with Surrey in June. However, the Indian captain’s hopes of getting used to English conditions came down crashing when he was diagnosed with a neck injury following his Indian Premier League 2018 campaign.
Kohli is now expected to join the Indian team during India’s two-match T20I series in Ireland, starting June 27, provided he successfully clears the fitness test scheduled for June 15. In his absence, Ajinkya Rahane will lead the team against Afghanistan in the latter’s first-ever Test, starting June 14 in Bengaluru.
Meanwhile, McGrath has also backed pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah to do well against the English batsmen.
While Kumar has earned the reputation of an all-format player for India, Bumrah impressed with his pace and control in his maiden Test tour in South Africa earlier this year. The 24-year-old is likely to make the cut in the Test squad for the all-important five-match series, starting August 1 in Manchester.
“Bhuvi [Kumar] and Bumrah. They have got pretty good control. That’s what you need, especially in England. The Dukes ball has a pronounced seam. If you get the ball in the right areas consistently, then you are going to do well. The ball will do a little bit, so yeah.. they will do well,” McGrath added.