Debasis Sen, London: Virat Kohli perhaps got the biggest compliment from Nasser Hussain ahead of the second test match which starts from Thursday at Lords. According to the former England captain, there cannot be any doubts whatsoever about Kohli being the greatest batsman on the planet at the moment. In an exclusive chat with Xtra Time, Nasser Hussain opens up about the series. Here are the excerpts:
With England wresting the initiative in the first test how do you see the series shaping up?
I think the series have been set up brilliantly. England needed to win that game desperately I have to say. With no Stokes in the side for the Lords test and also the fact that the ball moved around so much at Edgbaston, England would have wanted to use the conditions and go 1-0 up. If they had come here trailing the series and then not have Ben Stokes and also feeling they did not make use of the swing, they would have felt really down. It was a massive victory for England at Edgbaston.
Talking about the Indian batting, do you think the batsmen lacked the application?
Well some of them definitely looked under cooked as far as red ball cricket is concerned. They only had that three day game at Chelmsford opposed to four days. It has been a lot of white ball cricket for them and that is not great preparation for a moving red duke ball in England. So, I expect the Indian batting line up to get better. One bloke showed them how to do it. To score 200 runs on that pitch and on those conditions, that was a phenomenal achievement from Kohli.
What change in technique do you think has worked in favour of Virat in the first test match?
I think the change in technique, to come further forward and stand out of the crease to go at the bowler a lot more. These things aren’t easy changes to make. If they were then everyone would have been successful. I spoke to Ravi Shastri in Mumbai about Kohli and he said the greatest thing Kohli does is an honest appreciation of himself and what he need s to change and how he needs to improve. He doesn’t blough himself as far as batting is concerned. He actually looks at himself all the time trying to improve and immediately.
What do make out of this present batting line up?
I personally would have put Pujara at No. 3 as he averages 50 in test match cricket. They (Indian batsmen) are all very good players. Listen a lot of critics say they are over-reliant on one batsman and in the last test match they were in fact dependent on one batsman and the rest of the batting line up needs to have a look at themselves but you cannot tell me that Dhawan is not a good player or Murali Vijay who was the top scorer in the last series here do not have the skill to be successful. Bottom line is you have to work hard as it is a difficult challenge against a moving ball. You have to work hard and leave the ball here in England just like Kohli did in the first test.
Why do the Indian batsmen struggle here on seaming wickets?
Let’s not jump into a conclusion after watching just a single test match. There have been some very good Indian batsmen that have come here and got runs. You go back historically from Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Sehwag …. So you had some very good players. This side also has some very good players. It’s just only one game.
I think they need to play the ball later rather than going for booming drives like Dhawan who brought his own downfall at Edgbaston. Watch Kohli’s innings in first test, not only did he go forward, but he also plays the ball underneath him. And a lot of the other Indian batsmen are playing out in forward and that is very dangerous against the moving ball.
What kind of wicket are you expecting at Lords?
It’s been very dry. Lords won’t turn as much as Edgbaston but it is very dry. Lords will be a little bit flatter especially in the middle of the test match. So I expect that the wicket will be a little bit friendlier for the batsmen. There is a little bit of rain around but I still think it will turn a little bit.
Talking about the two captains Virat Kohli and Joe Root – how would you rate them?
They are very good captains, very fine players. They lead by examples and they have got lot of things to learn as far as captaincy goes. Joe is much calmer on the field while Kohli wears his passion on his sleeves. The mike drop celebration from both of them, that’s great for the game of cricket. I loved that moment when Kohli went back at Root. It shows the passion in the bloke. I think Virat is a better captain when he has that fire and passion in his belly and that’s when he is at his best.
Virat and Joe are right at the top but I would rate Virat Kohli as the greatest batsman on the planet right now. Full stop. Any form of the game, Kohli is the best player.
Any predictions for the series
It will be 3-2 for England.