Virat Kohli believes Marnus Labuschagne can be one of the world’s best batters after getting his first close look at the Australian who shapes as a thorn in India’s side for next summer.
Labuschagne’s magnificent season continued in India this week, with scores of 46 and 54 in his debut one-day international series.
He looked busy with the bat in both games, as he formed partnerships with Steve Smith in in Rajkot and Australia’s 10-wicket loss in Bangalore on Sunday.
Labuschagne looks set to become a fixture of the one-day side, but the cricket world already has one eye on next summer’s heavyweight Test battle between Australia and India.
Beaten at home last year, the Aussies will have David Warner and Steve Smith this time, while Labuschagne has now risen from World No.110 to No.3.
And Kohli said there was no reason why he couldn’t remain in the elite group of the world’s best batsmen, of which he and Steve Smith have headed for years.
“He’s a quality player. We were talking outside… he’s very sure of what he wants to do,” India’s captain said.
“Again, body language, intent, he’s there, he’s running hard between the wickets, he wants the ball (in the field)
“I think he’s got the right mindset to be a consistent player; to be a top player in the world for a while.
“He’s shown that in Test cricket, he’s shown that in one-day cricket, and I’m sure if he plays T20 cricket, he’ll show the same clarity there as well.”
Kohli said his team had learnt crucial lessons out of last year’s loss to 3-2 ODI series loss to Australia, where the Aussies came back from 2-0 down.
He stressed it upon his team that they had to match Australia in intensity and play with equally dominant body language to not let an advantage slip.
And he said the same approach had to be taken to wear down Labuschagne, after his record-breaking Test summer that included 896 runs at an average of 112.
“He looks like a complete team man,” Kohli said.
“So, against guys like that, you need to have total clarity and not back off.
“Because if a guy brings that kind of clarity, it can really put the bowlers under pressure if you’re not up to the mark.
“It’s about who loses patience first. If you give him a window, he can take the game away from you.
“He’s always and always energetic – I really don’t know where he gets that energy from. He’s like a bunny running around.”
Australia Qantas ODI Tour of India 2020
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Kane Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, David Warner, Adam Zampa
India squad: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami.
First ODI: Australia win by 10 wickets in Mumbai
Second ODI: India win by 36 runs in Rajkot
Third ODI: India win by seven wickets in Bengaluru