Centurion: Indian skipper Virat Kohli on Friday hit back at the critics who expressed discontentment at Ajinkya Rahane’s absence in the first Test saying that those who wanted his exclusion are now pitching for his comeback.
“It’s funny how things change in a matter of weeks, or just about five days. Before the first Test no-one thought that he should be in the eleven and now suddenly people are looking at the other option,” said Kohli ahead of the second Test in Centurion.
Kohli’s take on this issue is interesting because of the fact that there haven’t been any doubts expressed at Rahane featuring in the playing XI. As a matter of fact, it came as an absolute shock to many when the Mumbai batsman was left out the first Test match in Cape Town, given the fact that he has an impeccable record in overseas conditions.
The skipper further emphasised that the team selection is all about finding the right balance.
“For us as a team, it’s all about finding the right balance. If players fit in the kind of balance we want to go in with as a side, then they will fit in. We certainly don’t go on opinions that are created outside, and talk of the town and all those sort of things,” he said.
“He (Rahane) is a quality player. He has done well in South Africa, in all conditions actually away from home. He is probably been our most consistent and solid player away from home,” Kohli added further.
The 29-year-old also repeated the reason why Rohit Sharma made it to the playing XI ahead of Rahane.
“I explained the reasons why Rohit Sharma started ahead of him. I am not saying that Ajinkya cannot or will not start in this game. Possibilities are all open at the moment and we shall decide after practice,” he said.
Kohli also dropped hints that there might be some changes in the playing XI.
“As far as the opening combination goes, we will decide today at the end of practice what is it that we are going to go within this game. We might do something different also but there is definitely no need to panic,” he said
The skipper also felt that the Centurion wicket isn’t as green as the one in Newlands but would offer a lot of pace and bounce. He therefore asked his batsmen to not be taken aback by the pace and bounce.
“We must not get surprised by the bounce here. We have to maintain composure when you get sudden change of bounce, which you experience in South Africa. Here the bounce can be steep from length also. You need to mentally tune yourself to these things and accept that it is going to be a major part of batting in South Africa,” he said.
The fancied Indian batting line-up failed big time in Cape Town with them managing 209 and 135 in the first and second innings. Barring Hardik Pandya, no other Indian batsman could cross the 50-run mark as they failed to chase down 208 for a win.
But despite that, Kohli feels that the batting is looking good and strong for the second Test.
“I feel that definitely the batting order, through mistakes we committed in the first game and through the experience we gained in the first game, we are certainly in a much better shape to come at their bowling attack in this Test,” Kohli said.
He also said that there is no need to panic at this point of time.
“I don’t think we need to panic because of collapses. Whether we are playing five batsmen or six, you still need to apply yourself.
“It doesn’t mean that if you are playing six batters, you can afford to go out and play loose shots. You still need to have a solid technique and go out there and be ready to face spells, which are going to be difficult. We need to embrace that,” Kohli said.
India’s slip catching hasn’t been that great even during the home series last year but Kohli came out in support of his teammates saying that the past doesn’t matter and they are looking forward to playing well on Saturday.
“I am not going to sit here and talk about the last one year. The last game was pretty good, apart from one dropped catch from Shikhar in the first innings, which we looked at as a team. We want to plug all those game.”
“What’s happened in the last year does not matter. What matters is what we are going to do from tomorrow onwards to try and win this Test match,” a confident Kohli said.