Long Streak Of Matches Will Help MS Dhoni Find Momentum: Virat Kohli

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Photo Courtesy: Prokerala.com

PALLEKELE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s form and future has been under scanner post his Test retirement but a string of limited overs matches in the next three months will enable the former skipper get some momentum and consistency going his way, feels skipper Virat Kohli.

Dhoni’s form has been on the wane and Kohli is hoping that the next 24 limited overs matches will help Dhoni get his mojo back.

“This coming season gives us an opportunity to define roles for players and give them time to execute it so that for the World Cup, we know exactly what one player needs to do in certain situations,” Kohli told mediapersons ahead of second ODI.

“And it helps someone like MS also because he doesn’t play Test cricket anymore. This long streak of matches will help him be in touch with the international games, find some momentum and stick to it,” Kohli added.

For the skipper, it’s about growing good habits and sustaining them in the lead upto the World Cup.

“So it’s an opportunity for everyone in the team including MS to create good habits and sustain them over a period of time,” the skipper made it amply clear how much he wishes to have an in-form Dhoni in the team.

Kohli also feels that Axar Patel as a package is a more utility cricketer compared to chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, which is the reason he was preferred in the playing XI.

“It was a case of having two left-arm spinners that led us not playing Kuldeep in the first game. Axar was favoured more than Kuldeep from the point of view that he bats quite well and he is a gun (great) in the field also. Kuldeep has got opportunities in the past,” he said.

“(Yuzvendra) Chahal and Axar are guys who haven’t got many opportunities so we want to test them out. It’s all about giving opportunities to people which we feel will not hamper our plans in any way and at the same time, it’s about giving them exposure at international cricket,” he further added.

But Kuldeep very much remains in thick of things.

“Kuldeep remains in the thick of things all the time. To have a guy like that in the team is always a boost. You might see two wrist spinners playing together if we feel that we don’t need that much depth in the batting in the coming games,” said the skipper.

About giving Hardik Pandya the new ball, Kohli said that the all-rounder can use his height to a good advantage getting an extra bit of bounce.

“Hardik has the ability to swing the ball and he can bowl consistently over 135 km/hr. With the new ball, he can get a bit of extra bounce because of his height. He has bowled with the new ball in India against England and against New Zealand in a few games as well. We certainly look at it as a great option for us.

“Being the fifth bowler in the team, we can get four-five overs out of the way in the first 10, when the ball is swinging. Also Jasprit Bumrah is our strike bowler and he comes in one-change. The teams obviously will be a bit more wary against him so that really gives us good balance in terms of whom to use when,” he added.

© THE TIMES OF INDIA

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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)

© NDTV SPORTS

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

We Want To Do Things Right From Our Point Of View: Virat Kohli

India skipper Virat Kohli wants the side to focus on their own strengths and doing things right regardless of the nature of the opposition ahead of the next game against West Indies.

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Virat Kohli believes the team must look to focus on their strengths. (Photo Credit: AFP)

St John’s, Antigua: Antigua, where driving 11 miles on either side brings you to the sea, is so tranquil that apart from the sonorous sound made by tree frogs and crickets together, you hear nothing.

It gives, as India skipper Virat Kohli said on the day of arrival in the Caribbean, a relaxed atmosphere so needed right after the intense Champions Trophy. In a way, this isolation could be a blessing in disguise for the Indian team that had been riven by the coach-captain discord.

Walking through the tiny and unassuming village town of St John’s, you get to know from the ice cream vendor what flavour Sir Viv Richards prefers when he drops in for a shake, and get to know easily where Curtly Ambrose is playing the bass next, and of course the casino he’ll be visiting.

It is quiet with former star cricketers doing their things without making news even though they breathed fire during their playing days.

Current West Indian paceman Alzarri Joseph too comes from one of the villages that makes up the island and although quick, he hasn’t been able to make an impact in the two ODIs and the one-dayers before. He troubled the India U-19s at the junior World Cup, bursting into limelight, and last year scalped Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in the Test at Gros Islet.

His shambolic performance here, however, reflects the state West Indies cricket is in. So for a top class side like India, this lack of competition is also a test.

The second ODI looked more like being played at two different levels. India batted superbly whereas West Indies behaved like an associate nation looking to just bat out the overs even though they were just 43.

In such a situation, what is the motivation?

Skipper Virat Kohli says it is about following the processes and the standard they have set just to ensure they don’t lose track. At the moment, West Indies are lying in the ninth position with a 16-point difference against the next best, eighth placed Sri Lanka.

“For us, it about doing the things that we can do right and executing our skills to the best of our potential. Regardless of how the opposition reacts we want to do things right from our point of view, keep putting in the effort every ball, every over we play with the bat and the ball, in the field as well,” says Kohli.

“That’s the kind of mindset we take on the field. Regardless of what the opposition is doing we like to focus on our strengths.”

This, however, is also an opportunity to sort out weak links too. The middle order appears brittle and under pressure it cracked in the Champions Trophy final. By handing the opportunity to Kuldeep Yadav and by pushing Hardik Pandya up the batting order, Kohli made his intentions known.

A total of 300 runs isn’t enough these days as a target, as was proved against Sri Lanka in Champions Trophy, and the skipper is already working on setting the bar high. He smashed 87 off 66 balls and sent in Pandya ahead of Yuvraj and Dhoni.

“Kedar and Hardik haven’t got much game time in the past. The more games they get under their belt and more experience they get it will be good. They are actually consistently striking every game and more experience they get, then as a middle order group you can begin to go after the bowling early,” says the Indian captain.

© Khurram Habib, hindustantimes