Virat Kohli not just leads from the front but also motivates others to do well in the Indian cricket team to ensure a series win amid tough touring conditions. Ahead of the gruelling four-match Test series in Australia, starting December 6 in Adelaide, fast bowler Ishant Sharma has said the charismatic captain motivates everyone with his passion for the game and hunger for the victory. “Everyone is passionate because we are always motivated to win a series, not just in Australia but when we played in South Africa and England too, we were pretty motivated to win the series,” Ishant said on Tuesday.
Currently playing a four-day practice match against Cricket Australia XI in Sydney, Sharma believes that it is the best opportunity for the No.1-ranked Indian Test team to clinch the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
“That’s the biggest opportunity for us right now. We always have a good balance of players in our side, who can do great things for us, so it’s very promising,” he said.
“We are pretty motivated. The aim right now is to win the series and that is what everyone is focussing on. We don’t even think of personal performances, just one aim, to win a series in Australia,” Sharma added.
India last toured Australia for a Test series in 2014 and suffered a 0-2 defeat in the four-match contest. Under the captaincy of MS Dhoni, Kohli had performed well with the willow, scoring 694 runs in four Tests at an average 86.50.
Following the tour, Kohli improved his game furthermore and led the Indian Test team to the pinnacle of the ICC Rankings, following a successful run at home and resilient show overseas.
According to Sharma, the four-day practice game will set the tone for the Kohli and company. “The tour game is serious because it will set the tone for us. You get to know the conditions because you are playing here after a long time. So you can get into the groove and get used to the conditions,” he added.
Skipper Kohli has shown his faith in India’s bowling unit on various occasions. He, along with coach Ravi Shastri and the team management, has been vocal in praising the current pace attack.
Such words of praise from the captain don’t heap much pressure on his bowlers as Sharma said it helps them improve and keep a healthy competition within the pace unit.
“Pressure is there but I think it is a great opportunity as well. We have a healthy competition in the pace attack. If you are not doing well, you can be left sitting out and watching the game.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to do well in any conditions. We did well on the last two tours of South Africa and England. We are not even thinking like we have a pressure situation. Instead, we always think that we have an opportunity to do well,” he added.
During Sharma’s last meeting with the Australians in a Test match at home in 2016, he got engaged in a duel with then-skipper Steve Smith.
However, there won’t be Smith in Australian Test team this time as he is serving a one-year-long ban given by Cricket Australia for his involvement in the infamous ball tempering scandal earlier in March this year. Along with Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were also handed bans for masterminding ball tampering in South Africa.
Even though Australia miss their prominent batsmen, Sharma said his team will not take their batting line-up lightly.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. When the series starts, we will get to know what faces to make. There is no one key batsman to look out for but our aim is to get everyone all out.”
“Right now we are talking about how to make most of the practice game and what combination we will play in the practice game,” he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)