Virat Kohli may have had a quiet IPL by his standards but former Australia batsman Mike Hussey said the opposition teams can take the Indian captain lightly during the Champions Trophy at their own peril. “He is a class player and anyone who wants to write him off in this tournament will probably have to eat humble pie! You can’t keep a gun player down for long and I am sure he will be very determined to play well in England and show the world his class again,” Hussey told PTI during an interaction ahead of the ICC event. ‘Mr Cricket’ is confident that the form of top Indian batsmen will have no bearing on the defending champions’ chances.
“I don’t think it will have much affect at all. It is a new tournament in a different country, different team and different conditions. It’s all about starting well, getting some momentum and confidence going early in the tournament,” said Hussey. The two-time World Cup winner’s tips for the Indian batsmen is to play as late as possible unlike Australia where one can meet the deliveries on the rise.
“I feel from a batting point of view, you need to wait for the ball more and play as late as possible. In Australian conditions, as the pitches are generally true and you can go at the ball and hit through the line,” Hussey observed. Hussey also expects that spinners would have some role to play at the three venues — Birmingham, Cardiff and The Oval.
“It is hard for me to say when I haven’t looked at the pitches, but if they are dry, then I definitely think the spinners will play a role in the tournament.” The veteran of 185 ODIs feels that Steve Smith’s Australia have a very good chance to win the trophy with the kind of squad they have.
“I think Australia has a great chance. The team looks strong but it is a very tough competition to win as all the teams are very good and you can’t really afford any slip-ups along the way. If the team starts well and gets their confidence up, then they will be hard to stop,” the West Australian said. Smith and IPL’s Orange Cap winner David Warner have both been in good form, which is a great advantage for the Aussies.
“But they always seem to be in good form!,” Hussey commented, adding: “They are both crucial to Australia’s chances, they always are. It is good that they have been playing cricket and are in good form leading into the tournament.”
While he feels that the Champions Trophy final could become a limited overs ‘Ashes’ rivalry between England and Australia, he won’t mind an India versus Australia summit showdown. “Of course it can happen, if India can get through to the final! Just teasing you,” he signed off laughing.