Nathan Coulter-Nile (Image courtesy: AFP)
Nathan Coulter-Nile is pressing for Test selection (Image courtesy: AFP)

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) had suffered a peculiar collapse. From 65 for 1 in the Powerplay, they were shot out to 131. With Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Kedar Jadhav and Mandeep Singh in the line-up, RCB looked set for a win at Eden Gardens. Third ball of their innings, Nathan Coulter-Nile shaped one away from Kohli, got a big nick to the slip. A while later, RCB were bowled out for 49. ALSO READ: Coulter-Nile: Test cricket still a burning ambition

Coulter-Nile continued his run throughout the IPL 2017 claiming 15 wickets from 8 games. The happy run extended with Australia touring India for the ODI series this month. In absence of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, Coulter-Nile had the big responsibility along with Pat Cummins to lead the Australian attack and the pacer hasn’t disappointed. From a forgotten entity, Coulter-Nile may well get to don a Test cap this Ashes. At least his teammate and fellow pacer Kane Richardson thinks so. Australia are all set to name Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and James Pattinson as their four-men pace attack but an injury can open Coulter-Nile’s door. He is yet to play this format.

Coulter-Nile has troubled the No.1-ranked ODI batsman Kohli throughout the ODI series. From getting him for a duck at Chennai to not allowing him to get to his 31st hundred in Kolkata to cleaning him up at Bengaluru, Coulter-Nile has dismissed Kohli thrice in the ongoing ODI series.

Australia finally managed to beat India at Bengaluru and Richardson emerged as one of the heroes from the contest, claiming 3 wickets. However, he praised Coulter-Nile for his good show in the series. While Richardson has claimed 7 wickets from 3 games at 22.57, Coulter-Nile leads the bowling charts with 9 wickets at just over 23.

“He’s been amazing,” Richardson told cricket.com.au after Australia’s 21-run win in on Thursday. “He has been amazing getting Kohli out three out of the four games. He is pushing his case for higher honours in Test cricket this year, I think. If there’s any injuries or you’re resting and rotating, he’s probably the next one in.”

By the time the tour ends, Coulter-Nile will be 30. He made his debut in 2013 and has been around on Australian fringes for a while. Richardson calls him a “serious bowler” who is in contention of The Ashes.

“When you sat down a month ago and thought about the Ashes, you probably wouldn’t think of him being next in. (Jason) Behrendorff and (Chadd) Sayers and those kinds of guys are probably at the top of your mind and you forget about him because he hasn’t played. But when you actually watch him go about his work, he’s a serious bowler. It’s pretty good for Australia to have someone like that waiting in the wings,” added Richardson.

Coulter-Nile, who hails from Western Australia, has 120 wickets from 36 First-Class games at over 29. He has been more impressive in limited-overs cricket, averaging 24.14 and 22.69 in List A and T20s respectively.

Richardson did not stop there. He hailed Coulter-Nile’s all-round skills calling him a “pretty good package.”

“He has just got a knack of taking wickets and he is one of those bowlers who just finds a way to get people out no matter the conditions. And if you throw in his fielding and his batting at the end, he is a pretty good package. Hopefully he can stay on the park because if you keep him fit along with the other bowlers around Australia, it’s pretty exciting,” Richardson further said.

Australia will take on India for the fifth and final ODI at Nagpur on Sunday. The series will be followed by 3 T20Is.