Pat Cummins Virat Kohli India Australia
Pat Cummins clarified that his remark on Virat Kohli was off-the-cuff © Getty Images

Pat Cummins, the Australian fast bowler, has played down his ‘bold’ prediction from ten days ago that Virat Kohli won’t score a single century during the Test series starting in December, clarifying that it was an “off the cuff” remark and not meant to disrespect the Indian captain.

During a Channel 7 function in Sydney on July 10, when asked what his big prediction was for the much-anticipated four-Test series between Australia and India, Cummins had remarked: “My brave, bold prediction; I’d say I think Virat Kohli is not going to get a hundred and we’re going to knock them off over here.”

Following a flurry of headlines and reactions on social media, the 25-year-old has now admitted that it was more wishful thinking. Speaking to cricket.com.au, Cummins said:  “I was surprised by the traction the comments I made about Virat got. I was almost trying to do the opposite to the way they were perceived. I was trying to pay him a huge compliment and say that my big wish list for the summer was he doesn’t score a hundred.

“He’s obviously so important to the team and is such a gun batsman, so him not scoring runs would go a long way to helping us win. But I certainly didn’t mean to say he’s no good because I couldn’t hold him in higher regard,” he continued. “I just basically said ‘I’d love to see Virat Kohli not make a hundred because he’s a really good player’. The chances are he’s going to score a hundred against us again sometime and we’ll be doing everything in our power to try and stop that. It was just off the cuff. It was a pretty relaxed interview to say I’d love for him not to score runs, like I’d love any international player to not score runs against us.”

In two Test tours to Australia, Kohli has scored 992 runs at an average of 62, courtesy 5 centuries and 2 fifties. During his first tour there in 2011, he was India’s leading run-getter 300, scoring his maiden century. Three Australian summers later, a far more confident and well-honed Kohli racked up an India-record 692 runs at 86.60, which included 4 centuries, 2 of which came in an engaging series opener in Adelaide when he led in the absence of MS Dhoni.

In Cummins’ view, Kohli would not be a verbal target of Australia’s bowlers during the series starting December 6 but that his wicket would naturally be the most prized.

“Virat’s a really passionate player and I’m sure he doesn’t need any extra motivation to go out there and put everything into what he does,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll be calling out anyone this summer. We’ll just hopefully take plenty of wickets and the other team will hopefully not score many runs.”

“He’s similar to Steve Smith for us, he really gets himself into the contest and tries to find a way to fire up the bowlers. They seem to use that as a way to get the best out of themselves and I think that feeds off into the other players in the team as well. The captain and the best batsman is always the prized wicket and I’m sure it won’t be any different this summer.”