Virat Kohli Clears Air, No Problems Playing ODI Series

The first ODI will be played on August 20 at Dambulla.

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Virat Kohli addressing media ahead of the third Test at Pallekele. (Photo Courtesy: Prokerala.com)

India captain Virat Kohli on Friday put all the rumours, about him not willing to play the One Day International series (ODI) against Sri Lanka, to rest after he made it clear that he has no problems playing the upcoming series. “Who said I am not playing? I don’t know where this came from, but I have no problems in playing,” Kohli answered to a query on team selection. The Indian team will be selected on August 13. “We (team management and selectors) are going to sit down on selection soon and we certainly have plans in mind and combinations that we want to speak about. So as captain, I am definitely in the thick of things and knowing what to speak to the committee about,” he added.

Fully aware of spinners’ heavy workload during the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka, the team management and national selectors may rest Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from the limited overs matches. It is expected that pacer Mohammed Shami will also be rested from the ODI series as his workload needs to be monitored. Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad is in Kandy to track the performances while his colleague Devang Gandhi is in South Africa with the A team.

After the last Test of the three-match series in Pallekele starting from Saturday, the Indian cricket team will play the five-match ODI series. The first match will be played in Dambulla on August 20. The Men in Blue also play one-off Twenty after the ODI series.

(With PTI inputs)

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According To Virat Kohli, KL Rahul Is Definitely Coming Back For The 2nd Royal Stag Sri Lanka vs India Test

India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday made it clear that India will bring back opener KL Rahul in the playing XI for the second Test against Sri Lanka which begin on Thursday in Colombo.

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Virat Kohli said that he expects a result in Colombo. (Photo Credits: Prokerala.com)

India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday made it clear that India will bring back opener KL Rahul in the playing XI for the second Test against Sri Lanka which begin on Thursday in Colombo. The skipper said that according to him, Rahul is definitely coming back and one of the openers has to make way for him in the playing XI.

“KL Rahul has been our establish opener. One of the openers will have to make way for KL. What he has done in the past two years for us is very solid and he deserves to come back and start fresh in Test cricket,” he said.

Though Kohli said a final decision will be taken only after the team meeting after evening practice, he added that according to him, Rahul is back.

“We have a team meeting after the practice and we can clarify more after the meeting but according to me, KL is definitely coming back at the top order,” he said.

Asked about the wicket in Colombo, Kohli said that he saw a lot of grass on the wicket. But, the captain ruled out a possibility of playing left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav.

“There is a lot of grass. When you have big squad there are a lot of possibilities. We don’t like to announce anything a day prior. It’s sort of a surprise for opposition. Looking on the conditions we can go with anyone. Everyone is prepared to take the field,” he said.

India won the first Test in Galle by 304 runs and will like to win the series in Colombo. Kohli said that it is a wicket that will produce a result for sure.

“Last time around as well we thought it was a great wicket for Test cricket. Batsmen had to apply themselves to get runs, bowlers were in the game throughout. So it is a wicket that you will get a result on and that excites us. That is something we look forward to as a team. This is the kind of wicket we like to play on where we have to chance to make an impact on the game throughout,” he said.

Hardik Pandya May Get His Maiden Test Cap, Hints Virat Kohli

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Photo Credits: Prokerala.com

GALLE: India captain Virat Kohli on Tuesday hinted that Hardik Pandya may get his maiden Test cap against Sri Lanka on Wednesday as he chose to underline the all-rounder’s wicket-taking ability on all kind of tracks.

India had lost to Sri Lanka at Galle during the 2015 series when Kohli went in with a combination of five specialist bowlers with a batsman short in the playing XI.

However the presence of Pandya, who bowls fast medium close to 140 clicks and is a capable batsman, provides Kohli with the balance that he so aspires.

“Last time, we felt we probably were a batsman short and the fifth bowler did not do much in the game. We have those options again, but we have great balance in the side as well. We have got a guy like Hardik Pandya, who is a wicket-taking bowler. Every game that he plays, on any surface, he has a knack of picking wickets. He has a great chance of playing as well,” Kohli explained.

He referred how Stuart Binny’s small contributions became important in next two Tests that India won.

“In the next two Tests on that 2015 tour, we played an all-rounder (Binny) and that made all the difference. The extra batsmen would give us more solidity. We have taken learning from that and we will surely apply those straightaway in the series instead of getting a feel of how things will go. You need to have your best strike bowlers in order to pick up 20 wickets,” Kohli added.

Kohli reckoned that it will be a good wicket to bat on.

“There is a good grass covering and we expect it to be a good batting wicket. It was rolled yesterday (on Monday) and I am sure today (Tuesday), it would have been rolled in very nicely as well. And underneath the surface, it looks very hard. There is grass covering on it to keep the surface bound up and it should be a very good batting track,” the Indian skipper observed.

India will be missing Lokesh Rahul, who is down with viral fever. He is expected to be available later in the series but for now, Shikhar Dhawan will partner with Abhinav Mukund.

“Rahul is an established player and he has done very well for us in all formats over the past year. He is a very solid player, but these kinds of scenarios present opportunities to other players in the team to step up and show what they are capable of.

“They can have a solid performance and stay with the team for a longer period and get more chances to play in the future. So, our players look at these scenarios as opportunities and it is a great opportunity for Abhinav or Shikhar to string in a strong performances again,” said the skipper.

Kohli had words of encouragement for Rahul, who is just coming back after a shoulder surgery.

“It is difficult to keep the players positive when they are injured. I have also been injured recently and it’s a not a nice feeling. The only thing you can do is to accept the reality and know what needs to be done. There is not much you can do apart from doing rehab and all those sort of things.

Talking about Sri Lankan attack, the discussions veered towards veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

“He (Herath) is a quality bowler. Last time, he really dented us in that small chase. It’s something that actually was a great eye opener for us. We worked on those things in the next two games and we were able to win the series. He played both the games and the ball was still doing a bit.

“I think our batsmen came up with the goods and they had the counter plans in place. So we understand what he brings to the table and understand what needs to be done,” the skipper concluded.

© THE TIMES OF INDIA

Virat Kohli Basks In ‘Iconic’ Sri Lanka Memories

‘Last series in SL changed Test fortunes’ – Virat Kohli.

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Photo Courtesy: ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

When India were last in Sri Lanka, they were a team in transition. They had a new captain and the scars of back-to-back series defeats away from home were still fairly fresh. “We still remember, for us a as a squad, after the tour of Australia in 2014-15, we found ourselves at No. 7 in the world and from then on the transformation started,” Virat Kohli said as he cast his mind back.

India began that series in promising fashion, taking a 192-run first-innings lead in Galle, and then had Sri Lanka teetering on 95 for 5 in the second innings. But they squandered that position of strength to eventually lose by 63 runs. Yet another tour was starting to follow a painfully familiar pattern for India.

Only they went to Colombo and won both matches there – even the decider on a fast-bowler friendly pitch to secure their first series in Sri Lanka in 22 years. After landing in the country on Thursday, Kohli said that victory had given the team “belief”. It taught them “how to come together as a team” and “within I think 12 or 15 months from Australia, we were the No. 1 side in the world, we’d just touched it, but from then on we have solidified it. But I still believe, and so do everyone in the team, that this [Sri Lanka] is where it started for us. That particular series, after losing that Test in Galle, which was quite a dent for us, the way the team came together, I think was iconic, as far as where we’ve come in the last two years has been concerned.”

Some of Kohli’s pride stemmed from the fact that India had beaten a well-drilled Sri Lankan side. “What we told our group was, ‘what matters is how much you believe more than the opposition’. You might have played 100 games, but if a guy who has played 10 games has more belief than you, then he’s going to end up doing better on the field’.”

The core of that 2015 squad has once again come to the island, for three Tests, five ODIs and and a T20I, but there are question marks hanging over some of them. M Vijay, originally picked among the touring party, was forced to withdraw after a recurrence of his wrist injury. As a result, India’s openers are likely to be two of Shikhar Dhawan, who has not played Tests since October 2016, KL Rahul, who has spent the best part of 2017 with a shoulder injury and Abhinav Mukund, who made 0 and 16 in his first Test in five years in March.

“Injuries are an unfortunate part of sport, any sport in the world,” Kohli said. “Vijay was back with his rehab, but he played a game and he felt he wasn’t up there and that’s credit to him for conveying it to the selectors and being honest in telling us that he wouldn’t be able to be match fit because there’s a lot riding on a Test match.

“Abhinav has done really well in domestic cricket. Shikhar, when he came here last time, he got a hundred as well. Then he had to miss a couple of games. [Cheteshwar] Pujara opened in the last Test in the last series that we played here. So guys have started seeing such scenarios as opportunities and not as pressure scenario because now they feel privileged and they want to have any opportunity to play for the country and everyone wants to make a mark. No one wants to sit on the sidelines and watch other people go on with their business. I’m sure these guys are hungry

“And Shikhar’s coming back as well after being left out of the Test squad. He’s done really well in the Champions Trophy, he’s batting beautifully. Abhinav is very solid in his technique and Rahul, obviously, has been a champion opener for us. So all these guys are coming back really hungry because we haven’t played any Test cricket after February.”

But rust is a thing in world cricket, so is switching formats – India have been playing ODI and T20 cricket for the past five months. India will have to overcome these complications quickly and one way to do so, according to Kohli, is to make sure a player trains rigorously in the lead-up to the first match.

“I feel you need to physically condition yourself before Test matches, and then as soon as the game starts, the mental preparation, whatever you’ve done, you can sit down and think about the game. You have to put in the hard yards, thinking if you have to bat for four sessions, five sessions, physically you have to be up there, because playing limited-overs cricket, that can drop down because the demands are not that high.

“Playing short-format cricket, you can still think about Test cricket, but you won’t prepare in that manner because you are not prepared to do so because you don’t have to do so much work. But in Test matches, it’s a different ball game altogether, the way you eat, the way you hydrate, most importantly, the way you practice.

“As a professional cricketer, you have to jump from format to format. But I’m sure the guys who’ve only played Test cricket till February, and who haven’t had so much cricket after that, I’m sure they’ve had long sessions back home. Pujara has played some [county] games, all these guys have been batting for a while, training hard as well. So once the game starts, the groove kicks back in. You just need the game to start and everything falls into place.