The second match is going to be hard fought: Virat Kohli
Indian captain Virat Kohli will be brimming with confidence after his side notched up a huge victory by an innings and 92 runs in the first Test against West Indies at Antigua. The second Test, which starts on July 30, will be played at Jamaica where India has traditionally struggled but the Indian skipper said that the added pressure has increased the excitement. Talking to the media on the eve of the second Test, the dashing batsman spoke on a range of issues.
On the West Indies bowlers:
We’re not focussing on the opposition too much. We are happy that the wicket is going to have some bounce and carry. There was decent enough bounce in Antigua for us to exploit whatever help was there. Jamaica is going to be even better. It’s a result-oriented ground, we all know that. We’re quite excited about it. We’ve got good pace, the bowlers are bowling good areas. We’d just like to focus on that and believe that are batsmen are good enough to tackle any pace and bounce that West Indies’ bowlers generate. The plan is to go out there and play with the determination and focus that we showed in the first game.
On playing in Jamaica- a ground where India has a poor Track record:
It’s no different to any other place we will play at. Obviously, we need to be wary of the conditions a bit more because it is a ground that is result oriented. It’s obviously going to take more application than we showed at Antigua already. It’s going to take more responsibility and more concentration by the batsmen to get the job done. (Ravichandran) Ashwin came good at six, (Wriddhiman) Saha played well, Amit Mishra got runs. That just deepens our batting line-up and gives us the same bowling options that are required to take 20 wickets. It’s an exciting ground to play at because you know there is going to be a result. The match is going to be hard fought and any session can change the game, which is very exciting for us as Indian Test cricketers.
On whether he is thinking to change the bowling combination:
Honestly, there’s not much room to change when you’ve won the first game, knowing that the fast bowlers have done the job. There’s good bounce in this wicket. The last time we played a Test here, in 2011, Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh both got good turn and bounce. So the spinner can’t be left out of the game. There is a second innings as well, we need to understand that. It’s not overcast conditions and a green pitch where you will compromise on one spinner. You know that when the wicket dries up it will start turning and there is good bounce… so the spinners will come into play.
I think the roles will switch pretty drastically with each innings. And for that, we have to have all bases covered for us to have enough options to take 10 wickets in the second innings also. We need to have a good balance of spinners and fast bowlers for us to get a result. And that’s what we had in the first game. As I said, when you win, there’s not that much room for change unless the conditions are drastically different, which they are not. There’s pace and bounce here, and I think this will help the spinners in the second innings as well.
On KL Rahul, who is set to replace injured batsman Murali Vijay:
Well, he’s been in a very good zone. He scored runs in the practice games, he scored in Zimbabwe, we all know that. He had a great IPL season. I think that was the turnaround for confidence as far as he’s concerned. Last year, he had a good tour to Sri Lanka, got a hundred there. Again, didn’t play against South Africa.
It’s more a case of a guy waiting for an opportunity. You can see that with him. You can sense it. He wants to play. He’s batting really well, he wants to make it count. He wants to get big runs. I’m confident of his abilities. He’s pretty compact, he’s a solid opener and he’s a great fielder as well. Gives you that wicket-keeping option as well, in case something happens to Saha.
He’s, all in all, a great package for the team and it’s great to see that he’s going to get a Test match. Obviously, unfortunately, Murali Vijay has to miss out because of injury. Not good for him. He’s someone who has always done well for the team, always takes pride in playing for the country. He was not really happy with getting hit in the first innings, which is not in his control.
On his preparations for the Jamaica pitch:
As far as the question of the Test match result and where the series is going, we always prefer a result wicket. What happens is, if you play good cricket on them, you have a better chance of winning. That’s what we are focused on; the more matches you win, the more confident you are. As a team, we always look at getting results, and on this wicket you always get results, that’s what I’ve seen. So we’re quite excited by that, that we have an opportunity here to win, as a team.
Secondly, while batting [in the nets], I didn’t have any specific plan as such. What is important is, the way my mindset was in Antigua, that if you play a little aggressively, you give your team a better chance, and more time to bowl and take 20 wickets, so that’s one thing that’s always in my mind, and even in the nets, my effort is always to build up as much confidence as I can, by playing aggressively, and take that into the match, so you’re ready to play on a wicket with pace and bounce. That takes out the hesitation factor in the nets, because in the nets, a batsman always feels a little claustrophobic, you feel a little trapped. If you play fast bowling there, and in challenging conditions, it becomes relatively easier in the match, because the environment becomes such that you feel a little more free as a batsman.
So in the nets, the idea is to make it as challenging as possible, against bowling with as much pace and bounce as possible, so when you get similar conditions in the match, you’re ready for it. There’s no hesitation when you realise that there will be pace, there will be a bounce. So that’s the idea, to remove that little bit of doubt, and this is my method, to go into the nets and try to play positively.
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