Michael Clarke : Kohli better limited overs batsman than Smith

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Michael Clarke : Kohli better limited overs batsman than Smith

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SportsCafe Desk

09/13/2017

Michael Clarke has named Virat Kohli as the better ODI batsman while giving Steve Smith the title in Tests but picked Kohli as the better skipper between the two captains. Clarke also stated that the Aussie's experience of playing the Test series in India will be useful in the upcoming series.

The former Australian skipper made a distinction between the two captains by stating their area of expertise. Kohli, who averages 55.75 in ODIs, edges out Smith (44.26) in ODIs. However, in the longest format, it is the Aussie who owns the bragging rights thanks to his 59.66 average compared to Kohli's 49.55. Having said that, Clarke quickly added that cricket was a team sport and scoring runs meant nothing if the team did not win at the end. 

"In limited-overs cricket, I think Virat is ahead of Steve, but just by that much. Smith, I believe is a better Test batsman. I think over the next few days, everybody would want to speak about Steve Smith vs Virat Kohli but at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing, and that is the team that wins. It doesn't matter who makes the runs - Kohli or Smith. At the end of the day, your job as a captain is to win,” Clarke said during a media interaction, reported Times of India.  

"Another focal point besides their batting is their assessment as leaders. And honestly, at the moment, I think it's very even at this stage of their careers. Two young captains, two very good players, and they both continue to improve. Along with that, like I said, what's important as a captain is that your team in winning. And at the moment, Kohli's team is winning. Smith needs to find a way to crack that momentum early on in the series and needs to find a way for Australia to pick it again."

Australia were knocked out of the 2017 Champions Trophy in the group stage at the expense of lowly ranked Bangladesh, who went through after Australia's first two games ended up being abandoned. India were excellent in the tournament, making it all the way to the final where they were beaten by arch rivals Pakistan.

However, with the ultimate goal being the 2019 World Cup, and India seem to be taking all the right steps with back to back ODI series wins against West Indies and Sri Lanka. The Aussies, however, need to get back on track and Clarke picked this series as the turning point predicting that the visors would egde out the Indians by one game 3-2. He insisted that the Australian players, as individuals and as a team, must identify their roles as soon as possible.

"I think it's time for the Australian team to really decide how they want to approach 2019 World Cup. The likes of Smith, David Warner, the support staff; they've got to work towards finding what is the right technique and style for these players," Clarke said.

"Are they going to be an aggressive team? Will their top order go hard or will they try and consolidate for 50 overs and have wickets in hand? There's still plenty of time before the World Cup but the whole squad really needs to start now. The players need to identify their roles during this India series. Hopefully they attain success and carry it forward into the Australian summer.

"Their form over the last few months has been very inconsistent. They haven't played as much cricket as they would have liked. The Australian fans expect Australia to be at the top of the tree, to be No. 1 in the World and if we can beat India, I think 4-1, and then we will get there. It's a great chance for Smith to get their form going."

Clarke added that the Kohli-led Men in Blue have the potential to achieve greater heights and accredited Sourav Ganguly for this transition in the environment of the team and instilling aggression and pride in the players.

"I think there are definitely some similarities. It all began because of Sourav Ganguly's style of captaincy and he deserves a lot of credit for the environment he created. In my time, seeing the way Sourav would take charge of the team, motivate his players, never taking a backward step, always being aggressive, I think that has transpired on," Clarke said.

"MS Dhoni did it in a different way; Anil Kumble did it in his way. Kohli again has his own style. All of those guys have had that competitive toughness inside them. I think this team has that aggressive intent because they've been made this way by aggressive captains. What stands about Virat is that he doesn't have the fear of losing and that's a great advantage as a captain."

Clarke also denied the claims that this Australian team was the weakest-ever to tour India, and stated that the experience of playing IPLs in India would hold the Aussies in good stead. 

"It obviously makes it easier for the Aussies to be familiar with the conditions. These players now, being involved in the IPL, for them India is like a second home. Yes, it's a shame we don't have Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood due to injuries; those two will be missed. But this Australian team has no excuses since they know the conditions and this Indian team well. This is a massive series for us," he said.

"I think the Australian team has huge potential and it's time they change this potential into consistent performance. You look through this team; there are a lot of match winners. They just need to work out the best way to go about as a team. So at the end of the day, individual performance is as important as the team's overall for winning the game."

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