Why Adam Zampa’s rematch with Virat Kohli shapes as decisive in the short game this summer

Virat Kohli didn’t hesitate.

When Australia’s world-class attack jetted into Mumbai for an ODI series in January, Kohli said there was one bowler he was especially wary of.

Was it Patrick Cummins, the golden boy who boasts a dominant 4-66 against Kohli in Tests?

Or was it Mitchell Starc, the leading wicket-taker at the past two ODI World Cup and, according to Justin Langer, the best white-ball bowler on the planet?

Perhaps it was the ever-consistent Josh Hazlewood, who was making his white-ball return?

No, no and no.

It was Adam Zampa, the attacking leg-spinner who was discarded by Langer halfway through last year’s World Cup.

In the lead-up to that tournament Zampa caught Kohli’s eye with 11 wickets as the Aussies stunned India with a 3-2 series victory on the road.

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Zampa believes Virat finds leg-spinners hard to line up early in his innings.Source:AFP


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The master batsman is known for dripping in energy and overflowing with confidence, and it was Zampa’s chutzpah that left an impression.

“He was probably the one bowler who had more belief than others,” Kohli said. “His mindset was a standout, and he made those important breakthroughs in the games that they won.

“Even when he was hit for boundaries, he kept coming at the batsmen and trying and get them out, which I think is important for a wrist-spinner.”

It proved to be wise praise.

The next day Kohli rocked a Zampa short ball into the stands at Wankhede Stadium and, the very next ball, drove a floated delivery straight back to the free-spirited bowler.

It was Zampa’s only wicket in Mumbai, but it was the big one as the Aussies crushed India by 10 wickets.

Three days later in Rajkot it was a similar outcome.

Kohli lofted Zampa straight over his head, only for Ashton Agar and Starc to complete an acrobatic catch on the rope.

Zampa gets the better of Kohli during a T20 match between Australia and India in 2018.Source:Getty Images


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Suddenly, Zampa had career ODI figures of 5-151 against Kohli.

The locals was mesmerised. How was Australia’s World Cup dropout dethroning their king?

“We’ve found that Virat finds leg-spinners hard to line up early in his innings,” Zampa said.

“He’s such a great starter. Even the other day he was 16 off 14, how much energy he brought to the crease, his running between the wickets, some of the cover drives he played off the quicks.

“It’s important to try and have a gameplan to him, so we figured out that it would be good to start with leg-spin to him.

“I’ve got him out (five) times in the last year, so it’s nice to have that confidence to bowl to him at the start of his innings.”

Kohli has arrived in Australia to play six white-ball matches and just one Test match this summer.

With his tour largely limited to limited overs cricket it is the Zampa rematch that shapes as crucial.

Zampa has ODI figures of 5-151 against Kohli.Source:Getty Images

The Aussie offspinner sends Kohli on his way.Source:Getty Images

Zampa’s come-at-me style is a high-risk, high-reward approach.

Kohli’s strike-rate of 117.6 against the vegan towers over his career strike-rate of 93.3.

But it is the wicket column that matters, and Zampa said that having guts and a “strong character” was as important as his gung-ho accuracy.

“To be a wrist-spinner in one-day cricket in the middle overs is not easy at all,” Zampa said.

“From my point of view character is important.”

Captain Aaron Finch said the key was for Zampa to keep it straight.

“If you miss your length straight you’re still in the game, but I think if you miss your length wide good players are not missing out,” Finch said.

“They’re going to punish you. You can control one side of the ground a lot more when you’re straight.”

Legendary leggie Shane Warne reckons the key bowling to Kohli was to take away “both sides of the pitch”.

“In one-day cricket I don’t bowl at the stumps, I bowl wide of off stump all the time,” Warne told News Corp.

“After the initial 10-15 balls I bowl wide of off stump and taking out the on-side.

“I’m just giving him the off-side and then you can set a field to that off-side. Don’t bowl at the stumps and let him hit to both sides of the field.”

Bowlers often talk about aiming for a fourth or fifth stump.

When the Adelaide Oval Test rolls around, Warne said the Aussies should push even wider.

“Aim for like a sixth stump — where Jimmy Anderson has got him out — and test his patience,” Warne said.

Legendary legspinner Shane Warne has his own views on how to subdue Kohli.Source:Getty Images

“Because he likes to dominate and get on top of the bowlers I think you can bowl quite wide of off stump to him, and then the odd one hitting the top of off like Pat Cummins does.

“Early on you make him play the top of off, and as he gets in a little bit you drag him wider and fill the cordon — three slips, a gully — and test his patience.

“Just hang it out there. Don’t get sucked into trying to get him lbw, make that a surprise by throwing one at the stumps with a catching mid-wicket.

“But the real key is to stay aggressive against him. Don’t let him boss the game, and don’t go too defensive to him.

“Bowling wide of off stump and seeing if he wants to chase those wide ones is really important.

“That’s not defensive, that’s challenging his patience.”

Originally published asThe one Aussie bowler that gives King Kohli nightmares

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