Important To Back Your Top XI – Virat Kohli

‘Rahane deserves to walk back into the team’ – Kohli.

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Virat Kohli has said that India are unlikely to make too many changes, particularly in their batting line-up, as the think-tank looks to back players and give them confidence. The India captain has also said that youngsters who have performed will be groomed further as the team looks to build on its bench strength.

If India opt to not play six batsmen in this game, Karun Nair could miss out despite his triple-hundred in India’s previous Test. Kohli said that Nair has done well to stay in the squad but if it comes down to picking between the two players, the more established Ajinkya Rahane will get the call. Nair, who made his debut in the third Test against England in Mohali, got two more opportunities after Rahane was forced out due to a finger injury. India coach Anil Kumble had also said the side had not forgotten Rahane’s performances over the last two years.

Kohli said that while certain conditions may dictate the selection of an extra pace bowler or spinner, the batting line-up is likely to be kept consistently similar

“You need to back players for a long time for them to become match-winners and have long careers. I think bowlers can be switched according to conditions. You might want to play seamers or three spinners, some guys might have more pace or reverse swing, you can change those.

“I think from a batting point of view you need big runs in Test cricket, and to chop and change continuously doesn’t let them gain confidence. People who have been regular in the XI need to be given a chance. If form or that kind of thing happens you are subject to that change, otherwise it’s important to back your top XI. At the same time, you need to keep those youngsters within the squad and groom them. I think communication is a big thing on that front and we do that very well with the management, conveying to the players what they want.”

Kohli said that India’s bench is filled with cricketers who can step up to replace the incumbents when needed. “Bench strength gives you options when people are injured. That’s where it comes. An injury should not deplete a team; that’s something that bench strength contributes from. We are lucky to have guys who are up and ready for Test cricket. Jayant [Yadav] walked in beautifully. In T20s and one-dayers you saw [Yuzvendra] Chahal and Kedar [Jadhav] stepping up. We do have a pool of players who are coming up nicely. Credit obviously goes to the selectors for identifying them, and to the players as well who practise their disciplines regularly, that’s how you come up into that pool.

“I think it’s a back-and-forth sort of thing where you identify players but they have to put in the effort, which they have. So we’ve been lucky. We have good bench strength going forward. God forbid if there is any injury, we have two-three guys to fill up positions,” he said.

Kohli said that the India bowling attack’s patience during partnerships had helped them win seven of the eight home Tests this season, against New Zealand and England.

“I think is what we have done well over the last four Test matches not before, I would say, is be patient when there’s been a partnership. I think there was one instance in West Indies in Jamaica when we kept going positive and we didn’t hold back and we couldn’t take 20 wickets and the bowlers got tired,” he said. “I think we have done the patience bit very well in the series against New Zealand and England, bogging down the batsman and earning the wickets in difficult situations in the game.

“That’s something we want to do and to improve on as a team. When everyone is young, everyone is excited in the team. Sometimes people tend to get carried away and you don’t understand the importance of being patient.

“But I think the guys have worked hard on their fitness, they don’t mind bowling dot balls without attacking the batsman throughout the day. They have the fitness to bowl all day in one channel and when the door opens, just sneak in. That’s the biggest learning we have had in the past season and we’d like to take that forward.”

© Mohammad Isam, ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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