Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian test team has made it clear that he is eager to play with five bowlers for the upcoming tests in Sri Lanka. A few eyebrows were raised when Kohli opted for a 5 man attack in the solitary test in Bangladesh. This was done in a bid to bring more aggression with the ball, a feature for which Kohli’s predecessor MS Dhoni had often been criticized.
“Playing with five bowlers could be a big possibility. The idea is to take 20 wickets,” Kohli said. “That’s that only way you win a Test match and I strongly believe we need to have the best bowlers playing in the squad,” said Kohli.
Kohli also said that he expected more from his lower order batsmen. The likes of Harbhajan Singh, R. Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are handy with the bat, and their contribution can make a significant difference in the final outcome of the game. “We have people like Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harbhajan Singh, who are very handy with the bat”, Kohli said. “Ashwin averages about 40 in Test-match cricket. So, I don’t see any reason why he can’t be the allrounder for us. It is all about giving people goals and asking them to improve on certain aspects and provide that extra balance the team requires. I strongly feel that you have to play a stronger bowling side to win Test matches. And your batsmen have to take more responsibility, which is challenging but at the same time it is exciting,” said Kohli.
Kohli also spoke about the much anticipated opening slot. “It has been a spot that has been contested very strongly,” said Kohli. “We saw KL Rahul coming through Australia, batting really well,” Kohli said. “That was a time where Shikhar was not performing consistently. So, KL stepped in beautifully and now Shikhar has got runs again. Vijay has got runs for us consistently. So, its just a matter of shift in the balance,” added India’s test captain.
“I think Vijay has been a guy who has been very solid for us at the top of the order,” Kohli said. “He has really improved his game in the last one, one-and-a-half years. He has given us solid starts everywhere we have played Test matches over the past 12 months,” said Kohli. Dismissing rumors about Vijay being unfit, Kohli said, “No, I don’t see any issues with Vijay’s fitness,” Kohli said. “As far as I know, Vijay is almost 100% straightaway and I am sure he will be match fit even before the warm-up game.”
Kohli further said that openers would be selected based on their performance in the 3 day warm up game. “Who is playing well at that particular stage. We have a warm-up game to see things in Sri Lanka as well. Problem of plenty is never bad. Might as well having three guys playing well rather than two guys not playing well and one playing well. I am not really worried about that.”
Speaking about Rohit Sharma, Kohli admitted that it would only be fair to give Sharma an extended run at number 3. “He is someone who, if he gets going, even in a Test match, he could take it away from the opposition. That could actually be the difference between winning a Test match and lagging behind throughout.”
“So, I think that was the whole idea. He has done well in Australia when he has batted at three. I think he needs to get more opportunity there. Once he settles there, he could be the catalyst in the middle order. He can keep the scoring rate going. He is so naturally gifted that once he gets in, he has got massive scores for Mumbai. We want to give him that game time and give him ample opportunity to get that big score and in quick time.”
Kohli concluded by saying that he himself was working out on ironing his flaws from the game. “I wanted to practice on pitches that are much more difficult as far as spinners are concerned. I got decent practice in the last one week.”