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.

indian-skipper-virat-kohli-addresses-a-press-567813

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.

Virat Kohli Basks In ‘Iconic’ Sri Lanka Memories

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

virat-kohli-in-a-press-conference_1baeabd0-6c8c-11e7-9994-94edcc701b36

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.

Virat Kohli: You Have To Risk Losing To Win Test Matches

India's captain Virat Kohli, right, shares a light moment with his teammate during a practice session ahead of their third test cricket match against India in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. The third test cricket match begins Friday. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Virat Kohli tasted his first win as Test skipper when India defeated Sri Lanka in the second Cricbuzz Cup Test.

Virat Kohli is in the midst of his first series as a full-time captain of the Indian Test team. He has just tasted his first win as a captain, but the style that he has adopted has already become a talking point. In an exclusive interview with Cricbuzz, Kohli gives some insight into his thought process as a captain, why he wants to do it his way and more.

It seems that you’ve consciously made an effort to change the brand of cricket India is playing into a lot more aggressive one. Why did you want to do that?

Kohli: Well, I’m not saying that we change the way we play, but what we mean is being aggressive in those pressure situations where sometimes you tend to be conservative and the game can be taken away from you. We are consciously making an effort to give the guys more belief to go out there and express themselves. Because, that is the only way you can counter a situation.

Did something that you see influence the way you want to do it?

Kohli: We figured out why we are not able to capitalize on situations, from winning situations and actually winning Test matches. We thought about it, we sat down and figured out that maybe we are thinking of blocking too many balls and making Test cricket too difficult in our own heads and not actually going out there and playing the situation. Even in Test cricket people nowadays are scoring at strike-rates of 70, 75. That’s how you win matches.

So, we figured out it is important to release that pressure and tell the guys to actually go out there. Because, if you are going to defend in a particular situation, for example if you are chasing a target and you defend all day while looking to chase it, teams usually crumble in a session or two. So, once you take a situation positively, that’s when you are right in the game and you’re actually challenging an opposition to get on with the game as well.

What does a draw (in a Test) mean to you? Will you have that as the last option?

Kohli: Yeah. Definitely. Draw is the last option. You have to risk losing to win Test matches.

Does everyone in the team subscribe to it?

Kohli: Everyone (in the Indian team) follows it (risk losing to win Test matches). Everyone wants to win. There is no difference in terms of being on the same page. So everyone believes it. You can see it in the way we are playing cricket at the moment. Everyone is eager and hungry to perform. Even in the second innings, we are taking on bowlers and setting up targets.

It is a bit of a slippery slope? Risking a loss for a win when a draw is a viable option.

Kohli: See, it is as similar to people saying that ‘you are never far away from a good innings.’ You have to back yourself to go out and play, you don’t stop playing your shots. If you get out to a cover drive, it doesn’t mean that you stop your cover drive for life. So, if as a batsman I say that I get out in three innings, I know that one innings is not far away. And, if I can get that one innings, I can make it six or seven consecutive scores.

So, I think being positive is very important. We actually want to play in a certain manner and depending on that, you will have losses because you are going for victories. You have to risk that. But, once you get a taste of winning and once you get that habit, with this kind of a mindset it is very difficult for oppositions to stop eleven players who are going for a win in all stages.

Do you have any role models for captaincy?

Kohli: I don’t have any captaincy role models to be very honest. I don’t believe that a captain is someone very different from someone in the team. It is just that I have been given an opportunity to make decisions on the field. And that’s all I see of it. Everyone in the team is a captain in his own way because they are all thinking cricketers and they have cricketing brains. I don’t come with anything too different from what the other guys say.

The only thing is that, you have to have a strong character to be a good captain, I suppose. You need to have a lot of belief as to what you want to do as a team, firstly and then in your decision making. There will be a lot of positives and negatives. You just have to put them aside and actually believe in your own instinct and your own gut to go with your decisions.

Any captaincy advice that has helped or anything that you’ve learned so far, as a captain?

Kohli: One thing that I’ve learned so far in whatever teams that I have led is to understand your players. For a captain, (it is important to know) how you manage your players, how you handle your players. Someone might need a different way of (being handled). Someone might be in a different state of mind at a certain stage. So, how to talk to him, how to pull him up? If a guy is going through a good phase, talking less to him is better. These things I think are very, very important for a captain.

As I said, decision making on the field, all eleven guys are intelligent players and you will have advice coming in from all directions, but this (man-management) I think, for me, is the most important aspect.

Skills, fitness, strategy, mental strength. Order of priority?

Kohli: I think:

1. Mental strength
2. Fitness
3. Skills
4. Strategy