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Virat Kohli not Australia's only threat: 4 other concerns for Steve Smith's men

India Today logo India Today 17-02-2017 Rohan Sen

From the time the Australian team landed in New Delhi, Steve Smith and his boys have been dealing with questions on how they will cope with the Virat Kohli-threat and how are they going to contain the best batsman in the world on home soil.

Kohli-related questions have so far dominated every press interaction Smith and coach Darren Lehmann have had here in India. Given Kohli's recent form, that's not surprising.

Kohli has been the flavour of international cricket since last year and has carried forward his golden run to 2017 across formats. He scored 1215 runs in 12 Test last year at 75.93 with four hundreds and three double tons and has already scored a 200-plus score this year in the just-concluded one-off Test against Bangladesh in Hyderabad.

Former captain Sourav Ganguly has already backed Kohli to score another double hundred against the Aussies while former cricketer Michael Hussey has warned the visitors against sledging the Indian captain as he thinks it will only motivate Kohli to inflict more damage with his bat.

Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell has also said that he won't be engaging in any sort of a verbal war with his 'friend' Kohli.

But with all this talk about King Kohli, what the Aussies also cannot afford to overlook is that the full Indian squad is filled with threats of different kinds, especially the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

Apart from Kohli, Australia will also have to deal with the following factors if they are to go back home with their heads held high.

SPIN TWINS

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India have two of the best spinners in the world in their line-up: Ashwin and Jadeja. The No. 1 and No. 2 ranked spinners have been India's biggest weapons in Tests this season with the duo inflicting majority of the damage on visiting teams in the last three series against New Zealand, England and Bangladesh. Ashwin clinched 72 wickets last year to finish as the highest wicket-taker in Tests for the second consecutive year. Ashwin is undoubtedly India's Most Valuable Player as he has also been in terrific form with the bat.

Jadeja on the other hand, not only compliments Ashwin really well but also picks up wickets whenever his partner fails to do so. The duo has so far picked up 127 out of the 260 wickets on offer in the last 13 Test matches including 10 five-wicket hauls. Facing Ashwin and Jadeja will probably be a bigger threat for Smith and company than stopping Kohli from scoring runs.

KOHLI AND THEN THE REST

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Kohli has been the highest run-scorer for India this season with 1457 runs in 13 matches at an average of 80.94. But that's not the only headache which the visitors will have to stop. 

India's next best batsman this season, Cheteshwar Pujara, is also going to be a bad news for the Aussies. The 29-year-old has been scoring runs at an average of 60.81 and has amassed 973 runs in 12 Tests with three hundreds and six half-centuries.

That's not all, even though middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane and opener Murali Vijay haven't been as prolific as Kohli and Pujara, but the two have still been scoring runs at an average of over 54 and 39 respectively. Vijay recently scored a hundred against Bangladesh while Pujara struck fifties in both innings. With the in-form Wriddhiman Saha, who also scored a hundred in the last Test, and Ashwin and Jadeja forming the lower middle-order, the Australian bowlers will have their task cut out in the coming series.

FORMIDABLE FAST-BOWLING DEPARTMENT

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Not only the spinners, but India's fast-bowlers have also been nothing less than outstanding this season. Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will form the fast-bowling unit in the first two Tests of the series.

Umesh in particular has been bowling brilliantly in home conditions. The Vidarbha speedster has picked up 18 wickets in just 10 matches this season and has been very successful in rattling the batsmen with his pace and reverse swing in the last three series at home. The way Umesh, Ishant and Bhuvneshwar have got the ball to reverse from as early as the 15th over has been remarkable and one of the major reasons for India's success.

PHENOMENAL FIELDING UNIT

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India's fielding has improved leaps and bounds in the last couple of years thanks to players like Jadeja, Kohli, Rahane, Vijay and the likes. Jadeja in particular has been India's best fielder followed by the captain while Rahane has been a genius at first slip especially when he's standing there fielding for the spinners.

India's fielding unit can easily match that off Australia's, who have always set the benchmark in the fielding department for the rest of the teams. Close-in fielders and catching in the slips are the most important areas and India have both these covered thanks to Jadeja and company. Even the fast bowlers have been terrific in the outfield thanks to their strong throwing arms with Umesh being the best of the lot. Australia will have to think twice before trying to sneak in a single of a quick second run against the Indian fielders in the upcoming series.

Photos: Australia vs India: Most memorable Tests

Nathan Lyon of Australia celebrates with teammates after he got the wicket of Virat Kohli of India during day five of the First Test match between Australia and India at Adelaide Oval on December 13, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia. India vs Australia: Most memorable Tests

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