Josh Hazlewood feels that his ‘lucky’ edge over Virat Kohli in white-ball cricket means little heading into the Tests, and believes it will be vitally important for the Aussies to start well against the Indian skipper. Hazlewood further stated that the batsmen need to ensure to bat long periods.
After rookie seamer Jhye Richardson claimed the prized scalp of Virat Kohli in three consecutive ODIs in the 2018/19 tour, Josh Hazlewood claimed bragging rights over the Indian skipper in the 50-over leg of the ongoing tour. After having the Indian skipper caught at short mid-wicket in the first two ODIs in Sydney, Hazlewood bamboozled Kohli with a ripping good length delivery in the third in Canberra to complete a perfect hat-trick. The dismissal in Canberra, in fact, was the fourth consecutive ODI innings in which Hazlewood had dismissed Kohli, with the towering seamer also dismissing the Indian skipper in Bangalore at the start of the year.
Thus with the Tests lurking, many opined that the New South Welshman held a significant psychological edge over Kohli, owing to his impeccable white-ball record over the Indian skipper, but addressing the press ahead of the Adelaide Test, the 29-year-old played down the hype. Speaking to the media, Hazlewood stated that it will be a ‘fresh start’ for him against Kohli once the Test series kicks off, and emphasized the importance of the hosts starting off strongly against the Indian skipper, who will only be present for the first Test.
“No I don’t think I have an edge over Kohli. I’ve had some luck against him of late in the white ball stuff. I guess you take a little bit into the next format but I think it’s pretty much a fresh start,” Hazlewood said on Saturday.
“It’s a different story with the pink-ball, he obviously scored some runs out here against the red ball, so I think it’s crucial to start well against him. We’ve only got him for two innings, so it’s crucial to start well.”
Hazlewood was a part of the Australian side that lost the 2018/19 Border Gavaskar Trophy 2-1 to the visiting Indians, and had a pretty ordinary outing, picking just 13 wickets in 4 Tests at an average of 30.61. The Aussies, in the aforementioned series, were notably ground down by a resilient Cheteshwar Pujara, but according to Hazlewood, the bowlers also suffered due to the batsmen’s incompetence.
The Aussie batsmen, in the 2018/19 series, batted over 105 overs in the first innings just once in the entire tour, thus giving the bowlers little but no rest between innings. Hazlewood hoped for this factor to change this time around, and insisted on the importance of batsmen cashing in and batting long to allow bowlers time to recharge.
"Probably our bowlers did not get enough rest in between innings with Pujara facing a lot of balls. I guess in a long series, that's the batsmen's goal to score runs and win that Test but also to keep the frontline attack out on the field as long as possible, which probably exactly what happened last time around.
"We had spent a lot of time on the field in Melbourne with short rest in between and then again in Sydney.
"In four-five match Test series, that's a huge goal for the batters to not only score runs but spend a lot of time in the middle, to get some arms and legs of the opposition bowlers.
"Hopefully, we can swing that around this time and keep the Indian bowlers out for as long as possible to reap benefits later in the series,” the 29-year-old said.
While Australia have been dealt with injury blows with regards to David Warner, Will Pucovski and Cameron Green, they received a massive boost earlier today, with Mitchell Starc, the highest wicket-taker in pink-ball Tests, being declared fit and available for the first Test. Starc had missed the last two T20Is due to personal reasons, but the speedster has joined the rest of the camp just at the right time to prepare for the first Test in Adelaide. Hazlewood welcomed Starc’s addition and claimed that he expects the left-armer to hit the ground running, despite being out of action for the past week and a half.
"I think he would be fine. Nothing goes to plan. He is a professional player and would have been doing everything he could have over the last week. He will be ready to go and jump straight in.
“He’s a huge part of our team and a huge part of our attack. Everyone knows his numbers with the pink ball are pretty special, so yeah we welcome him with open arms.”