Kohli hasn't had it all easy against the underrated Australian leg-spinner in limited-overs cricket.
Virat Kohli, on the eve of the first ODI against Australia in Mumbai, suggested that height ponder moving to no.4 in the batting line-up to accommodate all of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul in the top three of the batting line-up.
While it made a lot of sense once, now with Shreyas Iyer doing a good job at no. 4, this decision could well be a case of trying to fix what's not broken. Now, there's another completely different angle to this move, which is that Kohli might be facing spin early on in his innings should walk in at no. 4.
The Indian skipper is a fantastic player of spin and can milk spinners all day long while also helping himself to the odd boundary to get going. But against Australia, at least, it might not be a smart move. Kohli has 1727 runs against Australia in 35 innings with a pretty good average of 53.96.
Adam Zampa, on the other hand, has been the most successful bowler in the current Australian setup against Kohli in ODIs, with the leggie dismissing the skipper thrice in 10 matches. Zampa has further dismissed Kohli twice in T20Is taking his tally to five dismissals in limited-overs cricket against the Indian captain.
Only two spinners - Nathan Lyon (7) and Graeme Swann (8) - have dismissed Kohli more often in international cricket. Zampa, however, has also gifted runs in an attempt to get Kohli out. In ODIs, he has bowled 91 balls at Kohli, leaking 116 runs in the process, with 12 fours and a six.
The leg-spinner with three dismissals has however made amends by dismissing him. With Zampa and Ashton Agar available for Australia this series, Kohli will have to contend with spin early on should he move to no. 4.
Since 2016, Kohli averages a whopping 68.75 per dismissal against right-arm spinners (both off and leg-spin) in ODIs. He has been dismissed by them 12 times in 59 attempts. Of these 12, nine have been inflicted by leg-spinners with Zampa contributing to the most dismissals (three).
Two of Zampa's dismissals did not even require the fielder as he had the skipper trapped in front and bowled. What's worked for the leggie is cramping Kohli for room with short quicker straight deliveries angled into the batsman's pads. It has made manoeuvring extremely difficult and Kohli gets rather fidgety when those singles and doubles are being denied. The battle between the two could well decide the course of this series.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Glyn Kirk, Indranil Mukherjee