Australia vice-captain David Warner surprised Indian cricket fans on Sunday when he said that they do not intend to sledge Virat Kohli. Known for playing mind games, Warner indicated that they will not sledge the in-form India skipper in the upcoming four-match Test series, beginning February 23. The first match will be played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium in Pune.
"For us, it's about going out there and playing our brand of cricket. Virat Kohli is one of those players, if you niggle at him, it either makes him better or if you get under his skin, he'll probably get even better. He's a world class player at the moment and for us, it's about going out and playing the best cricket we can," said Warner at the end of the drawn warm-up game against India A at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.
"We're not going out there to entertain the idea of sledging or banter. It's out there and playing good cricket and a great brand of cricket and making sure it's in the spirit of the game," added Warner who, according to India A's double centurion Shreyas Iyer, was among the two players who sledged him yesterday.
Warner said neither did his own performance in two innings in the warm-up game nor lead spinner Nathan Lyon's outing with the ball disappointed him.
"I'm not disappointed at all. That's what happens with my game, the way I play I'm either going to go on and cash in. Or I'm going to get out cheaply. That's the way I play," he said after making 25 and 35 in the two innings.
"I thought he (Lyon) bowled very well. When you've got a player (Iyer) who is in on a hundred, it's always hard to contain with short boundaries. You've got to try and tinker a little bit, think a bit more. And out there he did that, he asked a few of the players what their thoughts were," said Warner, adding, "I'm sure that he'll look at a bit of footage and see what he can do to improve from what he bowled out there."
Lyon was smashed for eight sixes by Iyer and lower Krishnappa Gowtham, who made 74 in 68 balls.
Warner credited the home team batsmen.
"That's their mentality, to apply a bit of pressure on our spinners. They did that - credit to them, they played very well."
He said the area of improvement is in bowling maiden overs.
"Over here you're going to have to be prepared to bowl maidens and that's one thing we have to try and do."
He said the team had set plans to counter Ravichandran Ashwin, India's number one spin threat.
"Well if he says he's bowling at 60 to 70 per cent then Jesus, what else has he got? 24 or 25 five-fors in the last 12 months, bowling at 60 to 70 per cent. I'd hate to see 100 per cent then. We've got our plans. Everyone's got their plans against Ashwin. He's a very, very good bowler. We understand that.
"There are other bowlers that we have to be mindful of. So we know that he will play a crucial a role in this, but as I have always said we just have to adapt to the conditions and assess when we're out there.
"The guys are in a great frame of mind, we're ready to go. We're pumped. And it's been a much-anticipated series so we're really looking forward to getting out there," he added about the upcoming rubber.
The left-handed Warner said that mental toughness was key to doing well in India.
"It's been a long time since we've played Test cricket there. The last time we played here it was my first time, so it was tough. It was challenging. Me as a player, I really learned a lot about myself back then. I was a bit younger, and a bit childish in a way. So I've learned a lot in the 4 years since then.
"You've got to have your plans in place, and you've got to stick to them. The biggest challenge here is being mentally fresh. You've got to have mental toughness. You've got to be willing to grind it out and bat time here, you've seen the players that come over here and have success - they're the ones that have great mental toughness.
"The ball is going to get soft fast. They're going to bowl tight lines early on with the ball swinging, and then you've got to assess. Whether it's letting the ball come to you, rotating the strike, attacking or defending the spinners.
"You've got to have that mindset, and you've got to be positive with that and you can't second guess yourself. If you second guess yourself, you're out, so you've got to stick to your plan and adapt out there," he added.
(With inputs from PTI)