Ricky Ponting offers strategic insight to unsettle Virat Kohli

Melbourne: Ahead of the upcoming four-Test match series between India and Australia, former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting on Monday offered a detailed strategic insight into how to unsettle India skipper Virat Kohli.

Talking about who possess the potential to stop the Indian leader, Ponting told Cricket Australia: “The first thing I will be doing is going back and looking at how anyone has stopped him in the past. Who has had the most success against Virat Kohli and why? The first one that comes to mind is someone like a James Anderson, who’s probably had the most success against him. From what I’ve watched over the years, he seems to trouble him the most.”

“If the ball is not moving, he is going to be really hard to get out. With someone like him who likes to score freely, he’s obviously got a big ego but there are other things you can do. You can put a few fielders out (on the boundary) early on; don’t let him get any boundaries. Maybe don’t go as aggressive at him early on. Try to bowl lots of tight, consistent stuff,” he added.

While advising the home team, Ponting said: “Bring your third slip or you’re floating slip up a little tighter because he tends to play with soft hands and run the ball down there.”

“Mitchell Johnson definitely rattled him a few times with some good, hostile bowling and some good, hostile body language around him. We shouldn’t sit back and let anyone bully the way we go about playing our cricket, especially at home. They’re in our backyard. You’ve got to use your actions and your skills and if they do that, then they can definitely unsettle him,” he added.

The Indian team, which have held the mantle as the world’s number one Test team for more than two years, have lost their past eight Test series outside the subcontinent.

“With the expectation of defeating Australia comes pressure. Kohli likes the pressure because he’s been there; he’s an experienced guy that’s had a lot of success. A lot of their other guys haven’t, a lot of other guys haven’t had that much success, certainly away from home. They’ve got their own challenges, there’s no doubt about it,” Ponting said considering playing outside subcontinent adds scrutiny for India.

Talking about the Indian bowling attack, former Australian Test skipper pointed out that visitors have historically relied on their spinners to win the format.

While Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, and Mohammad Shami form arguably the most potent pace attack, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have incredible records as spinners. But Ponting believes left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who starred in the recent T20 series against Australia, could give them their best chance at consistently taking wickets.

“India have a big decision to make there over what spinner they go with. I think Kuldeep Yadav can do a good job in Australia. Ashwin’s record in Australia is not great; he doesn’t turn the ball in Australia anywhere near what he does anywhere else in the world. They’ve always got Jadeja in their line-up as well who needs to have wickets that spin,” Ponting said.

“Kuldeep ‘s a little bit different in the way that he bowls, he’s got good variations as we’ve seen in the games he’s played here already. Their spinners are such a vital part of their Test match success. If their spinners don’t bowl well and don’t get wickets, then it’s going to be up to their quick and we’ll see if they’re good enough,” he concluded.

India will start their long tour of the four-Test match series beginning on December 6 in Adelaide.