London, August 11
Shardul Thakur lends perfect balance to their playing XI in these conditions but India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday indicated that the team management won’t look at batting qualities while deciding the injured Mumbai pacer’s replacement, instead the focus would be on someone who can help pick 20 wickets.
Kohli’s open-ended statement could be interpreted as favorable as well as not so favorable for veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who had to sit out of the first Test with Thakur being preferred over him as a seamer all-rounder.
It could mean that they have faith in Ashwin’s wicket-taking ability or it could also mean that Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav’s bowling will give more firepower than the few runs that Ashwin can score.
“Good thing is that Jadeja has got runs in the first Test already and he is going into the second game confident that already makes our batting deeper, the lower order contributed with bat as well,” Kohli said during the pre-match media interaction informing that Shardul has been ruled out due to a left hamstring injury.
“Yes, Shardul brings in more batting ability but having said that from the batsmen’s point of view, we are well placed because Pujara, Jinx (Rahane) and myself we didn’t score too many.”
The skipper was specific that he was not looking at batting qualities while deciding Thakur’s replacement.
“Every game is an opportunity for other batters to step up as well, Rohit and KL (Rahu) played very well and we are very comfortable with how we are placed as a batting unit, and we don’t feel that we will be a batsman short if Shardul doesn’t play,” he said.
Kohli again indicated that the template for the first Test is what he wants to follow in the second match as well.
“For us, it’s about finding that perfect balance but if someone like Shardul is not available, then we definitely need to think how to pick up 20 wickets and not try to plug in another guy, who can give us some runs with the bat. I think we are very comfortable how first Test went,” the skipper said.
He also didn’t feel that low scores of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara is an area of concern.
“I don’t think that’s an area of concern. Our basic focus is not to think individually where people are but collectively how much strength they bring into the team is our focus. What’s your best and strongest batting unit that you can take on the park,” the skipper said.
The flamboyant Rishabh Pant has taken an aggressive approach in the two Test matches he has played in the UK this summer with mixed results and Kohli wouldn’t like his young colleague to change his approach.
“That’s basically how he plays. He obviously has the ability to carry on and play long innings in that manner. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a very defensive role.
“Obviously, when there is a demand of the situation, he (Pant) is intelligent enough to understand if we are looking to save a game. Obviously, he won’t play those kinds of shots but wherever there is a 50-50 situation and he has a chance to change the momentum of the game he will take that chance. That’s how he plays and we want him to be that way,” the skipper was very public in his backing.
He also mentioned that the communication from the management is very clear for Pant.
“Obviously, communication is very clear from team and where we are heading as a team and what kind of approach is needed in different situations. We expect him to play innings that changes momentum and tilt balance towards us,” Kohli signed off. PTI