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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Alastair Cook Says Joe Root Can Follow Virat Kohli & Thrive As Captain

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Alastair Cook used the example of Virat Kohli when asked if becoming England’s Test captain could hinder Joe Root’s run scoring.

Kohli has hit eight centuries in 22 Tests since becoming India captain and dominated the series against England with a ruthless pursuit of run scoring.

Like Root, he also plays in all three formats, in fact he now captains India in every one, and is at exactly the stage of his career. Kohli is slightly older, 28 to Root’s 26, but they have both played 53 Tests.

“That is always a valid argument in one sense but it has driven the batting of others to another level. Virat Kohli for example has flourished, Steve Smith has flourished, Kane Williamson as well,” said Cook, who himself averaged 60 in his first 17 innings as captain.

Cook stuck to the party line to the end, simply referring to Root as one of the outstanding candidates for the job. It would be extraordinary if he was passed over having been made vice-captain two years ago and groomed for the captaincy.

“The fact he’s been vice-captain for the last two years makes him the most likely candidate and Strauss has clearly seen some leadership qualities in him,” said Cook.

“He’s got a very very good cricket brain, he’s a part of the newer generation of cricketers and he’s a bloody good cricketer who demands respect in the dressing room because of that. I think he’ll be an outstanding candidate. Also a little bit leftfield might be Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow who will come into consideration because of their standing in the dressing room and the way they drive things. They are very special.”

His advice to his successor was simple. “It would be ‘make sure you don’t always do it your way’. There are a lot of great people out there who watch a lot of cricket and know probably more than you do or anyone does, so (you should) use that advice and be open to it. Ultimately you have to make that decision out there but use as much advice as you can because a lot of people want you to do very well, because people love seeing England win games of cricket.”

England hope to make an appointment before the team heads to the West Indies on Feb 22 and Root could be in position as early as next week.

© Nick Hoult, Cricket News Correspondent, The Telegraph

Virat Kohli Is Learning Captaincy Tricks From MS Dhoni

Virat Kohli took over India’s limited overs captaincy from Mahendra Singh Dhoni just before the start of England’s One-Day International series.

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MS Dhoni is like a mentor to Virat Kohli, said the current Indian skipper.

After routing England at home in all three formats of the game, India skipper Virat Kohli said that he is learning the tricks of captaincy from his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The Delhi-born said he is benefitting from the immense experience of Dhoni in taking decisions in the limited overs format, which is relatively new for him in terms of leadership. India claimed the Twenty20 International series 2-1 after a comprehensive 75-run win in the third and final game in Bengaluru on Wednesday night.

“Although I have captained in the Test format for a while, ODI and T20 games move very fast. So to take advice from a person (Dhoni) who has captained the side at this level for so long and understands the game really well is never a bad idea in crucial situations,” Kohli said.

The young captain disclosed that he wanted Hardik Pandya to bowl after star-performer Yuzvendra Chahal’s quota was over but was advised by Dhoni and Ashish Nehra to hand the ball to Jasprit Bumrah, who scalped two wickets in three balls to finish the game.

“Bringing on Bumrah right after that over from Chahal, I was thinking of giving (Hardik) Pandya another over instead. (Dhoni and Nehra) suggested that let’s not wait till the 19th over and instead bring on the main bowlers. So these things really help when you are a new captain in the limited-overs format.

“But again, I am not new to captaincy, but there has to be a balance between understanding the skills needed to lead in shorter formats. MS has been helping a lot on that front.”

Kohli said the Indian team, which has many yougsters, has made a very fast progress.

“We got the results we wanted. Obviously winning all three series feels really, really good right now because we’re up against a top-quality side. We understand that and to come on top after the end of all three series is a great feeling altogether knowing that we didn’t have that much experience in our teams.

“The Test team is almost as good as new. Even in the one-day circuit, we have 3-4 experienced guys, but rest of the guys who stepped up are all youngsters, which is, I think, is a massive, massive boost for Indian cricket,” he said.

Kohli said the biggest takeaway for winning all three series for the team was the “youngsters were hungry to win matches for the team instead focusing on individual performances.”

Kohli said wickets in the middle overs by spinner Yajuvendra Chahal made the job easy for them.

“If we don’t get wickets in middle overs any total is chaseable in Bengaluru. No total looks far-fetched and any batting lineup in the world can explode in the end. So, key today was to take wickets in middle overs and Chahal did a good job to take those wickets,” he said.

Kohli also said that England’s batting collapse will not hamper English players’ chances in IPL auction. The visitors lost eight wickets for as many runs to suffer a dramatic slide in the match.

“I don’t think the collapse is going to hamper anyone’s chances of being picked in the IPL. It all depends, which team wants who, who provides better balance to  whichever franchise they could play for. As I said a lot of them are going to be up for grabs. I can assure you that,” he told reporters after the match here at Chinnaswamy stadium.

Unlike earlier years when England players were not available in large numbers at the lucrative IPL auction, the scenario will be different this time, England Captain Eoin Morgan had said at Cuttack recently.

Morgan hoped a lot of English players would be available for the auction and hopefully, they would be picked up and playing the majority of the games.

The auctioning for the 10th edition is scheduled to be held here soon and would be the final one under the 10-year contract. As many as 140 cricketers, including 44 overseas cricketers have been retained by eight IPL franchises.

The window for retention of players closed on December 15 and seven teams except KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) have retained more than 20 players.

© NDTV SPORTS