A cooler, calmer Virat Kohli is good for series: Ian Healy
Virat Kohli is bidding to become the first Indian captain to win a Test series in Australia. @Getty

How to deal with Virat Kohli on the field continues to be a talking point ahead of the series between India and Australia – which starts Wednesday with the first T20I in Brisbane – with several prominent names offering their views on the matter.

South African captain Faf du Plessis recently offered tips to Australia ahead of the series with India, suggesting that they avoid confrontation with Kohli and give him the “silent treatment” in an attempt to keep him quiet.

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Former Australian skipper Kim Hughes reckoned that the hosts should continue playing cricket the Australian way and that a bit of banter should be part of the plan against a batsman of Kohli’s pedigree, saying that they cannot afford to become “pussycats” when playing India.

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The latest former player to speak about Kohli is the Test great Ian Healy, who feels that the batsman has come a long way since the youngster who flipped his middle finger to a hostile Sydney crowd during the 2011-12 tour to Australia.

Last year during Australia’s tour of India, Healy had said that he was losing respect for Kohli as he felt the Indian captain was putting pressure on his team-mates with his feisty attitude. After hearing of Healy’s comments, Kohli also insisted that followers of the game search “when he was given out in Centurion down the leg side” on YouTube, citing it as an example of Healy’s misbehaviour when it came to responding to unfair umpiring decisions.

A more calmer Kohli, believes Healy, is good for the series and will set the tone for the series.

“He’s learned to play with more respect these days. I love the way he plays,” Healy told AAP. “Since then, I’ve felt he has played more respectfully to the ethics of the game and I think he’s been a lot calmer. Which he should be, for a great player. He did also forget that just before saying that, I did say he is the best batsman I have ever seen. So selective memory but that’s OK. I’ve been happy with his improvement. Now our Australian team is going to show similar improvements.”

This is Kohli’s third Test tour to Australia, having been their top run-getter in 2011-12 when in his first year of Test cricket (he made 300 runs in four Tests) and then putting up a record 692 runs at 86.50, with four centuries, in 2014-15.

“He’s always the one to watch. He’s coming off an English tour where his side wasn’t successful, so he’ll be really keen to do well here,” said Healy. “You don’t predict that even the best bowlers in the world will trouble a batsman like that. But we’ve got some firepower. They’ll be capable of giving him a really hard session or two. It’s up to him whether he can get through it.”

Kohli’s prolific record in the country is only matched by his one-field duels with Australian cricketers over the years, and on Tuesday he stated that his team will stand up for itself  if the line is crossed by the home team, while defining aggression ahead of the much-anticipated series’ opening game in Brisbane.