Hyderabad, Mar 1 : India captain Virat Kohli is open to moving down to No. 4 as India seek to firm up plans ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.
Speaking on the eve of the first of five ODIs against Australia here– India’s last lot of one-day matches before they arrive in England – on Saturday, Kohli said that such a move, if required, would hardly make a difference to him. “If that's the requirement of the team at a particular stage of the game or before a particular game, I'm more than happy to do it,” he said. “I've batted a lot of times at No. 4, so I don't necessarily have to try it out. My game doesn't change much from No. 3 to 4, because the template is quite similar. In any given situation, I back myself to play the game I know.”
Kohli, however, ruled out tinkering with the bowling combination in a bid to accommodate an extra batsman. With a well-established top-three, India have several contenders vying for the spots between Nos. 4 and 7 in KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant, Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya. The downside of playing Pant at No. 7 would be that unlike Jadhav or Pandya, he can’t be used as a back-up to get in a few extra overs. Kohli ruled out giving the inexperienced Pant game time at the expense of a bowler.
“We'll have to think of the combinations. I don't think playing a bowler less is a good idea, because with the extra fielder in till the 40th over, it's very difficult to get few guys to chip in with a few overs here and there,” he said. “We'll have to work around the batting combination to give game time to the guys we want to, but I don't see the bowling combination changing because of it.”
Kohli also lauded the wrist-spinning duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav for their contributions over the past season. India have now lost only 10 of the 52 matches that have involved either of those bowlers, an ICC report said. Kohli, however, refused to pick one over the other, saying that their inclusion would entirely depend on the composition of the opposition’s batting order.
“It depends on the opposition we're playing against, simply which of the two bowlers is more effective against the opposition batsmen,” he said. “If conditions are seaming, then it will be more pace-dominated along with Hardik, who is the all-rounder in the team. It's all about combinations, but I don't see one ahead of the other in the pecking order."
“Both of them make up the strongest spin-bowling combination in the world at the moment, and that's something I and the team are very happy about. Our success over the last two years has been mainly because of the impact of these two guys in the middle overs and their ability to pick up wickets for us," the India captain said. "I think both have been outstanding, their performances have been brilliant. If the combination needs to be changed, it will be purely be based on which bowler is stacked up better against opposition batsmen, whether there are more right-handers or left-handers,” he said.
Kohli further said that the T20I series defeat was an opportunity for the team to bring forth its character, saying that the challenge is nothing short of what they can expect to find at the World Cup. “Both teams know each other really well," said Kohli. "Australia probably has a better idea of playing in Indian conditions because of the number of guys that have been playing in the IPL two months of the year. We will have to be at out absolute best and nothing can be taken lightly."
“Australia on their day bowl well, field well and bat well, and do everything to precision. As an opposition, we need to be better than that, and that is something we have done in the past. So it's about getting into that zone again, and eleven guys pushing forward and trying to win every ball for the team – that’s what it's going to take to beat a side with momentum at the moment," he said.
“Australia played better than us and deserved to win the series. It's always an opportunity as a team when you haven't won one or two games to come out stronger and show character, because in a big tournament like the World Cup, it's important you keep coming back," Kohli said.
"It's not like you'll win all the games all the time, so all the guys are really excited and looking forward to doing that, streamlining their minds to read situations and do what's required for the team and do it well. As long as you take these things as opportunities, you're heading in the right direction as a team,” he added. (UNI)