“You feel like you have got the nation against you” - Nathan Lyon on engrossing duel with Virat Kohli

India v Australia - 4th Test: Day 4
Virat Kohli (left) and Nathan Lyon during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. (Pic: Getty Images)

Seasoned Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon has stated that a battle against Indian batter Virat Kohli feels like taking on an entire nation. Terming playing against Kohli a privilege, Lyon added that he prides himself on competing against the best in the business.

Kohli and Lyon will come face-to-face when India take on Australia in the World Test Championship (WTC) 2023 final at The Oval in London starting today. While the Aussies finished atop the 2021-23 WTC points table, India were second.

The two sides locked horns in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy earlier this year. Ahead of their WTC battle against India, Australian bowlers opened up on the challenge of tackling Kohli.

“Coming up against someone like Virat Kohli, you obviously feel like you have got the nation against you. If you are able to have a little bit of success and get Virat out or create a chance, you become the most hated cricketer in world cricket quite quickly. I’ve had that little bit of experience bowling to Sachin Tendulkar a number of years ago," Lyon told Star Sports.
“Virat is a superstar. [He’s] been the best in the world probably for a long period of time now. For him to constantly perform at this high level is credit to him. It’s been a privilege to play against him and compete. I’ve always said I want to compete against the best in the world. Virat’s probably brought that biggest challenge out of everyone," he added.

Kohli has an impressive Test record against Australia. In 24 Tests, he has scored 197 runs at an average of 48.26 with eight hundreds.

“If you are a little bit off, they are going to pounce” - Cummins on the Kohli challenge

According to Australian Test captain Pat Cummins, one of the biggest challenges of bowling to Kohli is to keep him quiet early on and ensure he doesn’t get off to a flying start.

“If you are a little bit off, they [players like Kohli] are going to pounce. You’ve got to lock in and lock in early or else they are off to a flyer. It’s always good coming up against Virat - he’s got me a few times, I have got him a few times, so it’s pretty good,” Cummins elaborated.

Australian batter Steve Smith, who is often compared to Kohli, described the Indian star’s ability to take on bowlers and put them under pressure as one of his biggest strengths.

“He’s scored runs all around the world. He’s ability to score on both sides of the wicket; he’s patient when he needs to be. He’s been an amazing player for a very long time in all formats of the game. When he gets going, he’s one of the best batters to watch in the world,” Smith said.

Heading into the WTC final, Kohli has featured in 108 Tests, scoring 8416 runs at an average of 48.93.

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Edited by Renin Wilben Albert