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Kohli’s India far from being at the level of world-conquering Australia – Nehra

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra said that while Virat Kohli’s team is capable of replicating the same kind of success, India aren’t yet at the level of the Australia side that dominated world cricket for over a decade.

Australia under Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting created an aura of invincibility around them that led to three successive World Cup victories and Test series conquests all across the world. It’s a level of success that was unmatched before and has been unmatched since.

“This Indian team is far from the Australia team. You are talking about an Australian team which won three consecutive World Cups, reached the final in 1996, won 18-19 Test matches in home and away conditions,” Nehra said, during an interaction with former India opener Aakash Chopra, in his show, Aakashvani. “It’s not like this Indian team cannot reach there, but I believe the core group is very important. A person gets confused after watching many dishes on the table and so it’s important to have fewer but better dishes.”

Nehra also dismissed Kohli’s notion that ODIs aren’t as important as Tests and T20Is, a statement made by Kohli in the aftermath of India’s 3-0 defeat to New Zealand on their tour earlier this year.

“If you win and tell this, it’s a different thing,” Nehra said. “It’s wrong to say that the year is for T20s and so we don’t care about 50-over matches. If it doesn’t matter, then why did you even come to play? Are you trying to tell that the Indian team didn’t try to win those ODI matches against New Zealand? I don’t agree with Virat Kohli’s statement.”

Nehra also called on the team management to show more patience with young Rishabh Pant, who has had a tough year. After a terrific rookie year in Test cricket in 2018, characterised by centuries in England and Australia, the latter the first ever by an Indian wicketkeeper on Australian soil, Pant’s performances dropped significantly the next year.

In particular, his shot selection and erratic mode of dismissals have been a cause of concern, but Nehra implored the team management to deal with the youngster’s case cautiously. “There are a lot of talented players, but they should be backed for a longer duration,” he said. “Today also, when we talk about the No.5 and 6 slots in Indian ODI side, we are not sure about it. 

“KL Rahul is playing on the fifth position and Pant, the person you were preparing to succeed MS Dhoni, is serving water. I know he has missed his chances and there is no doubt about it, but then you have kept him in the team because you saw the potential in him at 22-23 years.”

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