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.

Virat Kohli Hoping To Recreate ‘Landmark Tour’ Success

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Virat Kohli addressed the press before their departure to Sri Lanka. (Photo Courtesy: AFP)

After a marathon 13-Test home season in 2016-17, India are all set for an extended away sojourn – which sees them take on Sri Lanka, South Africa, England and Australia before 2018 comes to a close. A side’s mettle is tested on such tough assignments and as India get set to tour Sri Lanka the team’s captain and chief coach exuded confidence while talking to the press today (July 18) before departing for the Island nation.

Virat Kohli’s first major assignment as Test skipper came away in Sri Lanka in 2015. After losing the first Test at Galle from a winning position, India stormed back to win the next two games, to capture the series 2-1. That started a run which has seen Kohli yet to be defeated in a Test series under his captaincy reign.

 

Reminiscing about his first captaincy test, he felt that it was a “landmark tour” for his side as they embarked on a long journey which ultimately ended with them being crowned the number one Test side. Kohli credited the 2015 tour for instilling a winning culture in the team and the ability to bounce back from any situation thrown at them.

 

“That tour for us was a landmark tour because the players have matured from then on. It’s been 24 months since then, but that tour was the start of our belief system that we can win away from home,” Kohli said. “We do have the side required to win away from home and we do have the culture that has been created in the team to win whatever Test matches or series that we play. The mindset was to try and win the series. Losing the first Test was a shock to us but the way we bounced back was only because of the team culture created at that stage. We showed more belief in our abilities and that we could win from any situation and from then on you could see the results that we have had so far. The same mindset would apply now what we started back in 2015.”

 

A lot has happened in the last two-three months in Indian cricket. The recent ugly fiasco that played out between him and ex-India coach Anil Kumble doesn’t seem to have put Kohli off. Instead, the Indian captain felt that he was fully focused on what he can control and not worry about the speculation and all sorts of rumours floating around.

 

“I only have the bat in hand and my job is to go out there and control what’s been done on the field,” he said. “That’s something that I have focused on in the last couple of months and I continue to do so, lot of speculation and things fly around – those things are not in my control. (I) try to bring the best out of this team along with the management and try to perform to the best of my abilities which I believe.”

 

When asked if there was any added pressure on him after the recent events, Kohli sounded a tad philosophical when he said, “I don’t think there is any added pressure. What has to happen will happen, I believe in that. As a team we aspire to achieve what we want to achieve. Being criticised is nothing new – we understand that aspect of playing the sport as well. I certainly don’t take any added pressure. You just need to take care of your mindset and move forward.”

 

‘Shastris, Kumbles will come and go; fabric of Indian cricket will remain’

 

Ravi Shastri who was recently appointed as India’s head coach, having previously worked as team director, was all bullish about the future and reckoned that he doesn’t come with “any baggage.” Also, he felt that all the credit should go to the team which has become number one in Tests on the back of a consistent run against the top sides.

 

“I have matured since I last went to Sri Lanka and I have matured immensely in the last two weeks. Mine will be a refresh button that will be pushed. I don’t come with any baggage. The team has done exceedingly well over three years and they are the people who deserve the credit more than anyone else. These Ravi Shastris, Anil Kumbles will come and go. The fabric of Indian cricket will remain. If they are number one today, it’s their efforts they have put in over that three-year period and they deserve the credit. People like us will come and go,” Shastri said.

 

When questioned why Bharat Arun was chosen as India’s bowling coach, Shastri defended his former team-mate’s outstanding 15-year track record and went on to praise his work during their previous stint together. “There’s a track record – 15 years his life has been coaching. You look at that track record – it’s outstanding, right from junior level to A teams to Indian junior World Cup teams, he’s been part of – he knows these boys better than I do, because he’s been in the system for the last 15 years.

 

“You look at the last World Cup – India took 77 out of 80 wickets. If Bharat Arun’s name was someone else, who has played a lot of Test cricket – you would’ve put him on top of the tree. I don’t need to elaborate too much on what he is good at, what are his strengths, it’s there for everyone to see,” Shastri concluded.

© Cricbuzz

Virat Kohli Says Team Needs To Perform Consistently To Be Best In World

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File photo of Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli

Port of Spain: Indian skipper Virat Kohli has said that his team isn’t reading too much into the newly acquired number one ranking in the longest format as they prepare to take on West Indies in the fourth and final Test starting at Port of Spain on Thursday.

The visitors need to win the match to maintain their current spot, in light of Australia’s loss in Sri Lanka.

“It’s a nice incentive but it doesn’t really change anything for the team. Our goal has been to play good cricket and we’ve done that in the past year or so. And we want to continue with the same,” Kohli said today.

“Even last year, when we beat South Africa, because of some other team losing, we became number one for a brief period. To really become the best team in the world you need to play consistent cricket for a span of 3-4 years. This is pretty immediate and short-term incentive.

“You have to play sustained cricket for a good period of time to be the best team in the world. We have played good cricket that’s why we have climbed up the rankings, but if you see we have played lesser number of games than the other teams. It’s only after we play a good number of games that we can be judged. We’ve played good cricket but I think only at the end of the season, we can look back how we have played and then figure out where do we stand,” he said.

India will be looking to continue their dominance over the West Indies in this fourth Test. The biggest challenge facing the visitors will be the revised batting line-up, with Kohli again indicating that he will continue to bat at number 3.

“If we’re playing five batsman and if we are looking to bat someone at five, then the batting order we played in the last game works. When we play six batsmen and four bowlers, in home conditions maybe, then the combination might be different. But we are open to both,” he said.

“And personally, I don’t have to prepare differently. For me, the mind set matters before I go in to bat. It can be any position but if you are mentally fit you will be able to execute.”

There still could be a couple of changes, particularly since Murali Vijay is now fully fit and deserving of a call-up after suffering an unlucky thumb injury in the first Test. He is expected to partner KL Rahul, with Shikhar Dhawan sitting out. There could be one bowling change as well, if India are tempted to test their bench strength.

“If the wickets are drastically changing from one venue to the other, you will see a change here and there, especially with one bowler playing in front of the other. As far as the pool goes, we have a very good squad here. The stand-by players we have back home have the skill set as well. Everyone has been briefed about the roles they have to play. We have players who are ready accordingly,” Kohli said.

“One or two spots obviously will be available. But we can’t make too many changes in one series. And with a long season coming up, we are playing games at home too. So we want players to know that they are in the starting eleven so that they can prepare accordingly. We have done that pretty well in the last year and a half,” said Kohli further.

There is a consistent threat of rain here for the duration of the Test. Thus the pitch conditions might not reflect the ones before the start of the match, as the skipper pointed out.

“I had a look at the pitch yesterday (on Tuesday). There were a few damp spots. The covers came on very quickly today (on Wednesday) so I don’t know how much that has dried up. We would name a few more than the eleven tonight before taking a call on what would be the best combination in the morning,” he said.

“Apart from the damp spots, the surface looked pretty dry, and should have turn and bounce. That’s the feeling I got. If we have rain on and off then the seamers will get much more assistance. Even in the side nets today, the seamers were getting a lot of assistance. We have enough players to make a change in the squad at the last minute,” Kohli signed off.

© Firstpost

Virat Kohli’s Press Conference Ahead Of The 3rd West Indies vs India Test At The Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium In St. Lucia

Virat Kohli hints at picking KL Rahul as opener for 3rd Test.

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St Lucia: India skipper Virat Kohli on Monday dropped hints that he would like to persist with KL Rahul, who seized the opportunity by scoring a hundred in the absence of injured Murali Vijay in the second Test against the West Indies.

Rahul scored 158 after replacing Vijay, who had to sit out due to a hand injury.

“The good thing is all three openers are playing well. The bad thing is that you can only choose two between three. That is a call we need to take as management. We’ll sit down today and do that. Getting injured when playing well is not in your hand. That’s why they say injuries can really upset people and bring them down.

“The good thing is Vijay has been in a good headspace. He’s back to the nets and back to fielding and we will take a call on that,” Kohli said on the eve of the third Test.

“Injuries are not in anyone’s hands. Even in the IPL, I remember a game where Mandeep Singh was fit and set to play. While I was at the toss he split his webbing, KL got a chance and he hasn’t looked back since. We conveyed to Mandeep that unfortunately it was an injury and nothing can be done about that. We need to look at the balance of the side,” explained the skipper.

Kohli said his bowlers learnt a useful lesson from the drawn second Test.

“It turned out to be more challenging on day five. We know that we had the upper hand throughout. If we had play on day four we would have probably wrapped up things. The momentum was with us and it is a massive factor in cricket, in all formats, especially in Test cricket and that can only be attained by playing consistent cricket.

“We did that over a period of three days, we got the momentum, we were dominating, but you don’t have control over the weather and conditions.”

“On day five, it was a very good batting effort by West Indies. They applied themselves very well. But not taking anything away from our bowlers, they tried their best. Very rarely do you see the ball not reversing, not swinging conventionally and the pitch slowing down. When these three things come together, and the batsmen are applying themselves, it’s very difficult to take wickets.

“It was a really good test for the bowlers. These situations will come again. We have taken positives and learning from day five and will apply those going forward in these Tests,” Kohli added.

The pitch at the Darren Sammy stadium looks a bit dry, although with a little green sprinkling on the surface. However, much of it is dead grass, though properly rolled in and this wicket has a history of providing good bounce.

“I had a look at the pitch yesterday. It looks pretty similar to Antigua, even the grass covering. The surface should harden up. I think they didn’t have too much time to water it and roll it because of the rain. But it should become pretty hard.

“We’ve known this wicket to have a lot of bounce and carry. That’s a good sign for the bowlers. During all five days you have the chance to pick up wickets. It doesn’t slow down too much, which is a very good sign and looks like a wicket, where a result is very much possible,” said Kohli.

However, depending on how the pitch looks at the morning of the Test, there could be slight alterations to the combination. Ravindra Jadeja could be primed for a return, or the team might even go in with three spinners, or further yet, might retain the same bowlers once again. Rest assured, India are looking to retain their five-bowler attack.

“We speak about these things post practice before the game day. This is one area that we need to discuss as well, and what our best options are on a wicket like this. Who is fit enough to do the job the team requires them to do. This team is always up for changes according to the conditions and that’s something that will be in consideration as well,” Kohli signed off.

© FIRSTPOST.