Indian captain Virat Kohli on Saturday vowed to continue with five specialist bowlers despite their big defeat against England in the third Test but hinted at a rejig in attack for the fourth game by factoring in the workload of speed merchants. In a combative mood while answering the questions, Kohli dismissed the idea of playing an extra batsman, something that the great Sunil Gavaskar has been constantly advocating on air. “You are talking about a pure batsman?” he countered when asked if he would play a sixth specialist batsman.
“I don’t believe in that balance and I have never believed in that balance because either you can try and save a defeat or you can try and win a game. And we have drawn games in the past with similar number of batters,” the Indian captain was very curt with his reply.
“If your top six (including keeper) don’t do the job there is no guarantee that the extra guy can bail you out. You have to take pride in taking responsibility and doing the job for the team.
“If you don’t have the ability or resources to take 20 wickets in a Test match, then you are already playing for two results and that’s not how we play,” he added.
India will play the fourth Test at the Oval from September 2 and at least one, if not two, among Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami could be rested.
“That’s bound to happen as it’s a logical and sensible thing to do. We don’t want to push individuals to a place where they break down and that conversation is important.
“We will have that conversation with individuals and you can’t expect that in a short turnaround like this guys can play four Test matches in a row. So we will assess who are the guys who will be given that many number of days to recover and be okay for the fifth one.”
As of now, it can be safely stated that Ishant is set to be benched after a poor show at Leeds.
The skipper, however, said that he won’t pick on Ishant.
“I am not obviously watching his run-up as I am standing in the slips,” Kohli was sarcastic when asked if he felt that Ishant was having a problem with his run-up.
“I watch the bat of the batsman and I am not analysing how he (Ishant) is moving in the field. I think he moved similar to the last game. There was no issue whatsoever and as a batting group we failed in the first innings and in the second innings, we did a much better job.
“As a bowling group also, we accept that we were not consistent enough. That’s it.”
As has been the case with Kohli’s media interactions, he blamed the press — who he often refers to as noise on the outside — about the kind of questions being asked.
“I know what happens when we lose one game. I maintain this in the past that we are not going to fall into this space of picking on issues and not one or two things to talk about. We win as a team and we fail as a team.”
He nearly lost his cool when a scribe asked if the team would have discussions about backfoot play.
“I honestly don’t know what to say to that question,” the skipper said.
“I mean how do you play a ball on the backfoot which is not back of length?” he had a question thrown back at the journalist.
When he tried to elaborate whether due to the lack of backfoot play, India are missing out on runs, Kohli said, “Okay, thanks!”
There was also a question on his TV presentation chat with Michael Atherton where he spoke about the lower order being put under pressure every time due to the top order’s failure and if he would like to push Rishabh Pant up the order.
“I don’t think you heard it right what I said at the presentation ceremony. I said there has to be a balance between top five batters standing up and then lower middle order contributes when you haven’t performed. There has to be a balance between both.”
When a question cropped up about what was creating trouble — line or length — the skipper finally smiled.
“Thank God, finally it looks like a cricket press conference,” he took another sarcastic jibe at the audience on the other side.
In fact, he said that he loves situations where the team is questioned as they give them an opportunity to shut the critics.
“Because it’s a new day after tomorrow and day after. We like to be in a situation where people start questioning us and the ability of our team. That’s the situation we love best. I can guarantee, guys are hurt and when they are hurt, they badly want to correct it.”
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