Cracks appear: Kohli frustrated after star goes AWOL
Cracks have appeared in the Indian camp on the morning of the first ODI, with captain Virat Kohli revealing his frustration at superstar Rohit Sharma going AWOL.
Kohli broke his silence on the "special" reason why he's departing Australia early this summer in a belated press conference to open the tour, but the big talking point is the breakdown in communication between India and one of the world's leading batsmen.
Rohit, one of the most damaging opening batsmen in cricket, did not travel with the Indian side to Australia to complete his prescribed rest and rehab period, despite the fact he finished the IPL season.
The latest advice is Rohit will have a final assessment on December 11 to determine if he can fly to Australia and relieve Kohli when he returns home for the birth of his first child - but the Indian skipper has not held back in his disappointment over the "lack of clarity" on Rohit's absence.
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It remains to be seen how much the drama has rocked the tourists, but it suggests a major division between the biggest personalities in Indian cricket.
"Well, before we had the selection meeting in Dubai, we got mail before that saying he was unavailable for selection having picked up an injury during the IPL which would require a two week rest and rehab period and it said the pros and cons and the explanations of the injury had been explained to him and he understood that," Kohli said.
"That was the information before the selection meeting. He then played in the IPL so we all thought he'd be on that flight to Australia, which he wasn't travelling with us.
"And we all received no information whatsoever … the only other information we've received officially is he's at the NCN (in India) and he's being assessed and further assessed December 11.
"So from the time the selection meeting happened, the IPL finishing and now there's been no information. A lack of clarity.
"We've been playing the waiting game on this issue which is not ideal at all. It's very confusing and a lot of uncertainty and lack of clarity around the situation."
Kohli also took aim at the ICC for changing the rules on the run for the ICC Test Championship which is leading up to a scheduled final midway through next year.
India was leading Australia on points, but the ICC has now decided to go on percentage, which means Australia has leapfrogged them on the ladder.
"It's very confusing, very difficult to understand why. And if these things were explained from day one would be easy to understand," said Kohli.
"It's happened out of nowhere. And further questions should be asked to the ICC why it's been done and what are reasons behind it."
Kohli said the reason why he's heading home after just one Test match was he couldn't risk missing the birth of his first child due to the constraints of COVID-19 travelling restrictions.
"The decision was made before we had the selection meeting and I explained the same for the selectors," Kohli said.
"That I'd be flying back after the first test and that's based on the fact we've got a quarantine period both ways. I explained the same to the selectors.
"I wanted to be back home to be with my wife for the birth of our first child. A very, very special and a very, very beautiful moment in our lives and something I truly want to experience. That was the reason behind my decision, which was communicated to the selectors during the selection meeting."
AUSSIES URGED NOT TO SLEDGE KOHLI
Adam Zampa has urged Australia to adopt a no sledging policy around Virat Kohli, warning: "You don't want to wake up the beast."
Kohli relishes verbal confrontations on the field, and while Australian captain Tim Paine might have come out trumps in his lively stoush with the Indian master two summers ago, there is a feeling that silence is golden.
Pat Cummins said recently the Australians hadn't discussed a ban on sledging Kohli, but wouldn't rule it out either.
Zampa has an uncanny record of claiming Kohli's wicket in white ball cricket, but insists he won't be poking the bear with trash talk in the series opener on Friday night at the SCG.
"It's not really spoken about to be honest. But I just think you don't want to wake up the beast.
"There's been times in Test cricket obviously, watching from afar, where we've engaged that and it's brought out the best in Virat.
"Virat is one of those guys where I feel if you work him up and give him any reason to be better than he already is, it's probably a bad idea."
Australian captain Aaron Finch on Thursday labelled Kohli "the best one-day player of all time", and indicated the only talk about the batting genius on the field will be about bowling plans.
"We have to look to get him out," said Finch.
Cummins wrote in a recent column for News Corp that the Australians are aware that Kohli enjoys trying to bait opponents into a confrontation to get himself into the fight.
"Virat will be trying to pick fights with whoever will listen," Cummins wrote. "So will we implement a no-sledging policy against Virat again?
"It's not been discussed, but it might be something we speak about closer to the matches."
Test great Steve Waugh said Australia would be wasting its breath trying to get under Kohli's skin.
"Sledging is not going to worry Virat Kohli. It doesn't work against the great players and you're better off leaving those guys alone," Waugh told ESPN Cricinfo.
Zampa has got Kohli's number more than just about any other bowler in world cricket in recent years, but while he's proud of his record, he's not taking anything for granted heading into the summer opener at the SCG.
"It's something I'm proud of, but it's also pretty important to recognise that's in the past," said Zampa.
"I think it's important to forget about that, because Virat is one of those guys who is so determined and always trying to get better and take his game to the next level."
Originally published as Cracks appear: Kohli frustrated after star goes AWOL