Kohli fires back after greats slam tactics

Virat Kohli has come under fire for demoting himself to No.4 as India faces surrendering successive series to Australia on home soil for the first time since 2009.

Kohli (16 off 14) entered Tuesday's ODI during the 28th over for a short-lived stay as India lost 4-30 in the middle overs of a one-sided match that had the hushed Mumbai crowd sitting in disbelief.

Kohli told his critics to "relax" after the 10-wicket thumping.

"People need to relax and not panic for just this one game," Kohli said.

"I think I am allowed to experiment a bit."

With three specialist openers available, Kohli chose to bat below Rohit Sharma (10 off 15), Shikhar Dhawan (74 off 91) and KL Rahul (47 off 61), rather than dropping one.

But former Indian greats including VVS Laxman and Harbhajan Singh lined up to smash the reshuffle.

"The last team you would like to experiment against is Australia," Laxman told the Star Sports TV coverage in India.

"I don't see this plan working. Even Sachin Tendulkar never liked batting at No.4 (and) the last team you would like to experiment against is Australia."

Harbhajan said Kohli was a proven matchwinner at No.3, where he averages 63.4 at a strike-rate of 94.4 from 180 games.

At No.4 Kohli averages 55.2 at a strike-rate of 90.7 from 39 games.

Former Australian opener Matthew Hayden said his country would love seeing Kohli coming out to bat in the second half of the innings.

Shreyas Iyer had to shuffle down a spot to accommodate the move, despite striking two half-centuries from three games against West Indies at No. 4 in December.

Dhawan said he would be happy to relinquish his grip on an opening spot but expected Kohli to consider returning to his long-time position of domination.

"If they ask me to bat at No.3, of course I'll do it. Anything for my country, for sure," Dhawan said.

 

MELBOURNE HOME AWAY FROM HOME FOR DHAWAN

Melbourne's friendly residents and cleanliness have helped attract Shikhar Dhawan to his adopted home.

Dhawan and his wife, former kickboxer Ayesha Mukherjee, reside in the southeastern suburbs when there are no cricket commitments, despite the Indian opener growing up in Delhi.

"Australia is a beautiful country and my better half lives there," Dhawan, 34, said.

"I enjoy being in Melbourne as well. Not for a whole year, because we live two different lifestyles, and I feel that it is a beautiful city.

"It's got everything and is one of the best cities in the world. The people are nice, it's very neat, clean and fresh and the quality of quite life is good over there.

"I feel sad for the city where bushfires are going on and so many animals died, so my prayers with Australia. It is a beautiful country and you guys have kept it nice."

But Dhawan has done Australia no favours with the bat recently, averaging 86.5 at a strike-rate of 104.8 from his past four ODIs.

While Josh Hazlewood has career figures of 2-13 from 24 balls to Dhawan, the right-arm quick was not selected in the first ODI of this week's three-match series.

Dhawan praised Patrick Cummins for his tight spell on Tuesday.

"First 10 overs Pat Cummins bowled a really good line and length, a tight line, and he didn't give much loose deliveries," Dhawan, who topscored for India with 74 (91) said.

"With that pace it can get a bit challenging as well to score runs, especially when they're bowling in such tight areas."


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