Virat Kohli and Steve Smith are two of the finest batsmen in world cricket at the moment but Gautam Gambhir has rated the Indian captain ahead of the former Australia skipper. As per the former India opener, there is no comparison between the two as he feels Kohli is way ahead of Smith in limited-overs cricket. Also Read - IPL 2021: Rajasthan Royals COO Reveals Reason Behind Releasing Steve Smith
With Australia hoping to produce a repeat of last year’s result – when they beat the hosts 3-2 – Smith will be crucial to his team’s plan. Gambhir is curious to see where Smith bats though, since the toss up for No. 3 will be between the former Australia captain and the prolific Marnus Labuschagne. Also Read - ICC Test Rankings: Rohit Sharma Attains Career-Best 6th Position in Batsmen's List; Ravichandran Ashwin Climbs to 3rd in Bowlers' Tally
“Virat Kohli is a far, far better than Steve Smith in white-ball cricket. There’s no comparison. I would not compare Kohli to Smith in white-ball cricket,” Gambhir told Star Sports. “I would actually want to see what spot Smith bats on. Are they going to push him at No. 4 or would they have him bat at 3 and send Labuschagne at no 4?” Also Read - Virat Kohli is Looking After Groundsmen to a Certain Degree: Andrew Strauss Slams Indian Captain For Defending Motera Pitch
Gambhir is looking forward to seeing how India’s pacers fare against Australia’s batting heavy-units on flat surfaces. However, with a formidable new-ball combination in Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, Gambhir feels the home side shouldn’t have much to worry about.
“I’m really excited to see how these two guys bowl against some of the top batters like David Warner or Aaron Finch in that kind of form in white-ball cricket on flat wickets. But the best part is that they have got pace. They can actually get wickets with that sheer pace and the quickness in the air as well,’ Gambhir said.
Gambhir rued the fact that India went ahead with Bhuvneshwar Kumar ahead of Shami in the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand in Manchester back in July. With Bumrah and Shami bowling together, Gambhir believes the impact in that match could have been a lot more.
“Both of them bowling in tandem is going to be a great sight because it’s a little unfortunate that Shami didn’t play in the World Cup semi-final. It was probably the worst decision that was made in the entire World Cup with the kind of form he was in,” he said.
“Had he played that, with Bumrah he would have had an impact. I know that both of them bowling with the new ball together with the form they are in, it’s going to be hard work for the Australians.”
There may be uncertainties regarding Bumrah – who picked up two wickets from two T20Is against Sri Lanka on his return to international cricket – but Gambhir has backed the 25-year-old pacer to get back in groove soon.
“I’ve always believed that when you’re playing on placid wickets and smaller grounds like the Wankhede or Bangalore, your bowlers need to step up. The kind of form Mohammed Shami is in, it’s a big plus for India that he has done really well in white-ball cricket. Jasprit Bumrah is coming back from injury but he’s a quality bowler.”
On the batting front, Gambhir expressed concerns over India’s middle order, reckoning the tree-pronged pace attack of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc will pose the Indian batsmen a serious threat.
“Australian bowlers like Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood would not let Indian batters at numbers 5, 6 and 7 get runs in front of an opposition like this,” Gambhir said.
“Maybe in front of Sri Lanka or Bangladesh they can get runs but in front of such a strong opposition it will not be an easy task so it is all about how the top 4 in the batting line up deliver. Last time when Australia had come to India and beaten us, the squad didn’t have Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, so it is going to be a difficult task with them playing.”