The Australians might be missing Steve Smith and David Warner following Cricket Australia’s reaffirmation of their bans, but that doesn’t make them any less formidable, according to Indian captain Virat Kohli.
Cricket Australia confirmed on Tuesday that Smith and Warner will serve out the full sentence of their ball-tampering bans, and thus will not be part of the Indian tour. In their absence, Australia has struggled in the white-ball format, winning only four of 11 T20Is and losing all but one (against South Africa) of their last eight ODI’s.
The situation is not ideal for Australia, but Kohli insists that the men from Down Under remain as strong as ever and cannot be taken lightly.
‘There’s no denying the quality they have in their side. They still have world-class cricketers. Obviously missing out on two of their best batsmen is not ideal for any team, but even then they have guys, especially in the limited-overs game, who can do damage at any given point of time,’ said Kohli on Tuesday on the eve of the first T20I of their tour to Australia.
‘You can never underestimate any side. We’ve come here to compete against Australia, the whole team, and we will definitely not take anything for granted.’
Australian captain Aaron Finch admitted that the home team faces a daunting task against the high-flying Indian side, adding that there were very few chinks in the Indian team’s armour.
‘We definitely have a very strong side,’ said Kohli when asked about Finch’s analysis of his touring party, ‘but I don’t think there’s any side in world cricket that doesn’t have any weaknesses or [don’t have] points that they need to keep working on. We as a side keep striving forward to figure out what we need to work on and take our quality of cricket up.
‘If we are playing at our best possible level, then we try and maintain it for as long as possible. That’s why our level of cricket has gone up. And we have been able to maintain it because when we step on to the field, we are 11 individuals who are striving for excellence and to be the best on that particular day. That’s when the performances come together and it looks lovely as a team.’
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