The new stadium in Perth that is hosting the second Test between Australia and India is set to provide a throwback to the days in the past of fast, bouncy pitches in the city that had visiting teams ducking for cover. But India captain Virat Kohli insisted that his side sees this as an exciting opportunity for a bowling attack at its peak.
Speaking ahead of the second Test starting on Friday, Kohli said that his team, in fact, wanted the Perth pitch to have more grass than Adelaide. The Indian captain compared it to the bouncy (sometimes dangerous) Johannesburg pitch from earlier this year that saw India defeat South Africa and finish the series 2-1.
“Very excited. We just saw the pitch and it has a good grass cover. We wanted the Perth pitch to have more grass than even Adelaide because our bowlers can come into play,” said Kohli. “So when you see a pitch, for example the pitch at Johannesburg, where it is going to be difficult to bat on, we take it as a positive thing that we have a chance to get a result. And we are prepared to play positive cricket and not bother about getting hit. We will go with the same mindset we had in Johannesburg Test where the wicket looked very difficult to play but we still won. I think mindset matters and we want to play on wickets that are difficult to bat on and we also have a chance of winning by taking 20 wickets.”
Unlike in the past, when Indian teams have struggled to perform on green, bouncy pitches, Kohli was clearly excited at such a track, saying his team actually looks forward to it rather than be nervous, thanks to his bowling attack.
“We certainly get more excited than nervous looking at lively pitches because we understand that we do have a bowling attack that can bowl the opposition out as much as they are convinced about their attack. When you have 4-5 bowlers who are at the peak of their ability, it is always the great feeling in the side.
“For us as batsmen also it gives a lot of motivation and gives boost to us that we can put up those match winning, significant batting performances because we have so much belief in our bowling unit right now that we understand that if we bat well, we definitely get the results that we want. So its a very exciting phase to be in and we need to build on.
“I have played all around the world for 10 years now and I have not played on a wicket like Johannesburg to be honest until now. I played at Perth as well 2012 which was not close to what Johannesburg was,” he added.
Kohli also said he hoped no more grass was shaved off the pitch, “because that will mean that first three days will be pretty lively.”
“We just have to challenge ourselves as a batting unit and show discipline and show positive intent and then ask the bowlers to do the job they did at Adelaide as well. So I think this pitch is going to offer significantly more to bowlers than Adelaide did and that’s something we are very happy about.”
Contrary to belief that Perth will see Australia enjoy more home comforts than Adelaide, Kohli said that a pitch like this means there are no favourites ahead of the match.
“Look we are not alien to pitches like this. We have played many times in the past on fast wickets. Its nothing new for us. As I said, on a lively wicket with the surface being hard, you are as much in the game as the opposition and there is no favourite. Whichever team plays well, whichever team is brave enough to tackle those conditions wins on tough wickets.
“We are definitely confident of the percentage of chances we have and we want to build on that. Obviously Australia is going to be a strong team and there home conditions and on a wicket like Perth which probably offers you more than other pitches in Australia. But as I said we have an equal chance in the game,” the 30-year-old said.
If India can take a 2-0 lead, they will retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy as they cannot lose the series from there. Kohli once again reiterated that his team was not looking to be content with just one Test win.
“We can’t be complacent or satisfied with one win and we have to keep repeating to do the good things and win series. Away, it is all the more challenging but even at home if you want to win series, you have to win games for which you need to be consistent.”
The Perth Stadium is hosting a Test for the first time with the old WACA stadium not in use for international cricket anymore. Asked if there is a challenge in playing in massive stadiums like this, Kohli replied on the contrary.
“Not at all, it looks pretty much like MCG. We have played in big stadiums. We have played against Australia also in big stadiums. Its very different from the old Perth stadium. The pitch plays very much like the old Perth stadium, we just had a net session. its fast. I don’t see many different there. Its a good stadium and has a great feel. We are just looking at getting on to the park.”
Watch the video here: