‘All the pressure is on them’: Hazlewood’s warning to Kohli

The pitch at Dharamsala,?? Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, two days before the commencement of the deciding fourth Test between Australia and India. Photo: Andrew WuDHARAMSALA: Josh Hazlewood has declared India captain Virat Kohli is feeling the pressure as Australia dare to dream of pulling off a series victory that would trump even the conquering of the final frontier in 2004.


There has been a noticeable rise in confidence within the Australian camp as the visitors realise they could not only compete with India but beat them on their home soil.

Captain Steve Smith was eager to manage expectations after a strong finish to the home Test summer but days out from the decider there is now genuine belief Australia can pull off the unthinkable.

The pitch at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, while far from the green top seen in the local papers, is not the dust bowl one would expect to see on the subcontinent.

The curator has said it will be fast and bouncy, and though his counterpart said the same before the first Test in Pune there is more reason to believe this assessment. The Australians believe it is the best looking surface they have seen this tour.

Hazlewood said the pitch will produce a deadlock-breaking result. India need to win to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which many thought would be a fait accompli only weeks ago.

India are rarely beaten at home, where they have lost only four series and 19 of their past 122 Tests since 1987. Australia have won just one series here since 1969 when Adam Gilchrist ended a 35-year drought.

“Before we came over they were expected to win 4-0,” Hazlewood said. “The pressure is still firmly on them being 1-1 going into this decider. All the pressure is on them.”

While Australia believe they have the wood over Kohli, who has made just 46 runs in five innings, they are also wary the superstar batsman can come good overnight. He started slowly against New Zealand last year only to sign off with a double century.

But they say the weight of expectation is showing on Kohli, who has felt the heat on and off the field.

“I think the whole Indian team has [felt the pressure], and probably the skipper more so,” Hazlewood said.

“There’s a little bit more pressure on him. It’s just that they are expected to win in their own backyard, just as we are at home.

“So the more pressure we can put on the better.

“They need to win so the wicket they serve up will bring a result into the game.

“The pressure is firmly on them.

“We can draw it but we obviously want to win it, win 2-1 and win a series in India which rarely happens.”

Having Cummins emerge unscathed from his comeback Test is a massive plus for Australia. The injury-prone quick was given precautionary scans, which Cricket Australia say is due diligence for a bowler with his injury record, after the third Test and they came back clear.

Having been able to extract bounce on Ranchi’s featherbed, Cummins should prove even more dangerous in Dharamsala. So well did he bowl, Australia lost little through star paceman Mitchell Starc’s departure.

“I think the way they saw Patty Cummins bowl the other day, they don’t really want it any faster than Ranchi, I wouldn’t think,” Hazlewood said.

“I think everyone was taken back by the way he bowled and to get that lift and pace off the wicket like that. He’s a pretty special player and to bring that extra pace is what you need sometimes on those wickets to get those breakthroughs.

“He’s going to be great if he can stay on the park and join the [fast bowling] cartel and have a good partnership moving forward.”