Australia expect Virat Kohli to excel in any set of conditions this coming summer, even if the Indian icon finds himself revving up empty stands.
Justin Langer’s men are set to host India in a four-Test series later this year, pitting the world’s two best teams against each other.
The COVID-19 pandemic has cast doubt on the showpiece series, but Cricket Australia is expected to do everything in its power to ensure the lucrative contest starts as planned in December.
That could, depending on the state of the health crisis in six months, include locking fans out of grounds.
Kohli has a tendency to feed off crowds, be it working India’s fanatical supporters into more of a frenzy or producing a boo-laden masterclass with the bat, and previously attributed on-field performances to off-field noise.
But Nathan Lyon has no doubt the captain of the world’s top-ranked Test team will produce his best if the epic rivalry resumes amid silence and serenity.
“Virat is a superstar. He’ll be able to adapt to any climate,” Lyon told reporters on a video call.
“I was actually talking to Mitch Starc the other day and we said that if we are playing with no crowd, it’ll be quite amazing to see Virat trying to rev up the seats. It’s going to be a little bit different.
“Playing in front of crowds or no crowds is out of our control, we’ve got to follow the advice of all the amazing medical people around the world.
“I haven’t thought about (it) … I’m just excited about the prospect of India coming out to Australia, it’s up there with the biggest series alongside the Ashes.”
Kohli has exhibited restraint and statesmanship more than rage and theatrics in recent years, winning the International Cricket Council’s spirit of cricket award for pleading with fans to stop booing Steve Smith at last year’s World Cup.
The 31-year-old returned to his firebrand roots during a handful of incidents earlier this year in New Zealand, while he memorably swapped barbs with Tim Paine during India’s previous tour of Australia.
National coach Langer recently referred to that 2018-19 summer, when India stormed to their maiden Test series win in Australia, as “a really tough time”.
Lyon also has vivid memories of the low point of the slump that followed the Cape Town cheating scandal.
“They had the wood over us,” he said.
“But we’re a much stronger Australian cricket side at the moment. I’m just unbelievably excited about playing them.”
Australia’s most prolific offspinner, who has captured 390 wickets from 96 Tests, expressed disappointment about missing out on a county stint with Hampshire and Australia’s tour of Bangladesh in June.
“I’ve become a kindergarten and Year One teacher to my two daughters … you have to look at the positives at the moment and that’s one big positive,” Lyon said.
“It’s not very often we get to spend this much time at home.”