Australia captain Aaron Finch hailed India’s Virat Kohli as “one of the greatest players of all time” ahead of the three-match T20 International series between the two teams.

Speaking ahead of the first T20I in Mohali, Finch said Kohli always poses a threat to opponents and is someone who can’t be written off.

“It will be a very brave man to write Virat Kohli off,” said Finch. “At any stage, he has shown for 15 years now that he is one of the greatest players of all time.”

“Particularly in T20 cricket, he’s someone who has developed and grown his game over such a long period that you always plan and prepare the best when you’re coming up against him. He is super and has 71 international centuries. That’s just ridiculous.”

Finch, who announced his retirement from ODI cricket earlier this month, remains Australia’s skipper in the shortest format and is confident of contributing for the team going forward.

“Over a long period of time, you get pretty comfortable with criticism but in T20 cricket, I feel my form has been really good for quite a while now. I think if you separate the ODI form and the T20 form, then they’re totally different, they’re two different formats of the game,” said Finch.

Australia will be the hosts and defending champions at the upcoming T20 World Cup, having won their first title in the UAE last year, and Finch said he wants to make the most of the India series in terms of preparation.

“Every decision that we make, I think, has one eye towards the World Cup and seeing the wicket yesterday, it looked like there was quite a bit of grass on it,” Finch said.

“And we know in Mohali, the ball can swing around and it can carry through quite a bit, so I think we will be mindful of not being too narrow-minded in terms of our focus.

“What we’ve tried to do over the last sort of six-eight-ten months is make sure that everything that we’re doing in T20 space ties back into the World Cup and, for us, it’s about making sure that once we get there we’ve had plenty of different combinations of teams that we can play.”

David Warner, Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh are three big players that Australia decided to rest for the India tour, with an eye on the World Cup. Finch said that in Marsh’s absence, Steve Smith is likely to bat at No 3.

“We know the quality that Steve’s got. He’s one of the best players that has ever played the game over all formats of the game. So we know the skill that he’s got and the game sense and the tactical nous that he’s got. So we’re really confident that regardless of what role he has to play within the structure of the squad, that he can do that very, very well,” said Finch.

Finch also lavished praise on uncapped power hitter Tim David. The skipper stopped short of confirming whether David would be making his international debut on Tuesday, saying the playing XI would be decided after taking final stock of the wicket in Mohali.

David, 26, has made his way into Australia’s World Cup squad following impressive performances in domestic short-format leagues around the world including the Indian Premier League, England’s Hundred and Pakistan and Caribbean leagues.

“Tim has been super impressive for a long period of time in T20 cricket,” said Finch.

“He’s someone who we know has got the power obviously, he has shown that all around the world where ever he has played. The fact that he has come in the squad with such a great attitude, he’s been training brilliantly. He’s been outstanding.”

The series serves as a warm-up for the T20 World Cup to be hosted by Australia next month, and Finch said there would be a “little bit of mixing and matching” in the absence of some first-choice players.

Quotes courtesy PTI and AFP