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New Delhi, May 31 – Ahead of the World Test Championship Final, Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood, who has played alongside Virat Kohli on more occasions than against him in recent times, revealed what makes the India star so good at his craft.
Hazlewood has spent the past two years with Kohli by his side at Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the IPL and the experienced Australia quick has seen up close just why the India great continues to be rated as one of the best batters in world cricket.
While Hazlewood — if selected — will be doing everything he can to take the key wicket of Kohli and lead Australia to glory in the ICC World Test Championship Final, the pacer has spent the last two years watching the India star closely and trying to work out why he is so good.
The 32-year old Australian feels it is Kohli’s strong work ethic that puts the India batter ahead of the rest and allows him to remain one of the most prized scalps in Test cricket.
“I think it’s probably how hard he works (that stands out). His fitness first of all — and then his skill work and batting and fielding in particular,” Hazlewood told the ICC.
“He is always out there (training) first and leaves last � and the intensity he trains at all the time is at such a high level it drags everyone else along for the ride. That can leak on to the other players and improve them as well,” he added.
Kohli isn’t the only World Test Championship rival that has impressed Hazlewood at RCB, with in-form seamer Mohammed Siraj another one of the Australian’s IPL teammates that he will be out to beat in the one-off Test at The Oval from June 7.
Siraj was the leading wicket-taker for RCB with 19 scalps from 14 matches in the recently-completed IPL season and Hazlewood knows the right-arm Indian pacer is just as capable with the red-ball.
“I was a bit late getting there (to RCB this year), but before then he was on fire. He is up there at the top of the wickets every time, and the economy rate was probably the thing as bowling at Chinnaswamy (RCB’s home ground) is impossible sometimes and he was going at six or six-and-a-half an over,” Hazlewood said.
“His control was great and he is bowling well,” he added.
With his frustrating stint at the IPL this year cut short due to a side issue, Hazlewood is closing in on full fitness and determined to return to the fold against an India side that he has an excellent record against.
The Australian has more five-wicket hauls in Tests against India (five) than any other nation and his record in England is just as impressive with a total of 36 wickets from eight matches at an imposing average of 23.58.
Hazlewood also made his Test debut against India – at The Gabba in Brisbane in 2014 – and has played more Tests against the Asian side (15) than any other team.
“It is a strange stat that as I think I have just played a lot of cricket against them,” Hazlewood said, modestly.
“What is going to be interesting is playing them here in England. It is going to be interesting for both teams how they go about it and how different it is to playing them in Australia or in India as typically you only play them there.
That is the exciting thing about it and everyone is looking forward to next week,” he added.