NOTTINGHAM: India skipper Virat Kohli on Friday said his players don’t feel threatened because of his chop-and-change policy and called it “quite a bizarre thought to have”, taking a dig at those questioning the trend.
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Kohli has made 37 changes in 37 Tests as captain and that trend looks set to continue when India meet England in a must-win third Test here from Saturday.
“I don’t think anyone is thinking like that. These are just things that are created on the outside and people like to make a lot of nothing. For us, the priority is to win games of cricket. We are not thinking whether someone’s career is on the line or what’s going to happen to their future,” Kohli said.
World No. 1 India trail the five-match series 0-2.
“We need to focus on this Test and not think about whether someone’s career is on the line. It’s quite bizarre thought to have,” Kohli told reporters at the pre-match press conference.
“That’s basically your thinking. I’m definitely not thinking like that, so I won’t speak to the guys assuring their careers are not on the line. Like I said, that’s quite a bizarre thought to have,” he added, when further asked if he had provided any security to his teammates as captain.
Kohli said he has sent out a message to his teammates asking them to focus solely on the team’s requirements.
“You know when your back is against the wall, it is the time for you not to think anything else. From another point of you, it’s a good situation to be in because you have no room for thinking about anything else apart from what the team requires at that particular moment from you throughout the Test.
“The only conversation we’ve had is that the only option is to win this game and nothing else.”
Kohli stressed on thinking from the team’s point of view, in terms of batting and carrying themselves on the field, in a bid to overturn the 2-0 deficit.
“It’s all about you feeling positive first and that’s the conversation we’ve had for the last few days. It is up to the individuals to stand up, and say I’m going to go out there and make a difference.”
Talking about what the batsmen need to do in conditions that suit the bowlers, Kohli said, “When you play here in conditions, you have to accept that even if you are batting on 100, you are not set. You can get a good ball at any time and you have to accept that as a batsman when you go out to bat.
“If you are fearful of that ball coming, then you will not be able to do your process properly. When that ball comes and incident happens, you have to accept it and move on. But it doesn’t mean that you surrender beforehand because a good ball is going to come.”
The skipper declared himself fit for this Test after recovering from his back issues suffered at Lord’s. Jasprit Bumrah has also recovered from a fractured hand and is primed for a comeback.
“I am feeling absolutely fine. It’s been an issue that’s coming on and off again. I got it in 2011 first time and it happens with the workload. Back is such a thing you don’t know when it’s going to go off.
“All you can do is strengthen the muscles around it. Bit of strengthening, ample rest, proper rehab — it gets me back into shape.”
Additionally, Rishabh Pant looks set to make his Test debut, as he was busy batting and practicing behind the wickets to pacers.
The skipper didn’t confirm these changes, but at the same time said that the thought of playing an extra batsman will only be considered if the conditions are loaded in favour of bowlers, like at Lord’s.
“Very excited with Jasprit getting fit again. He’s an attacking bowler who bowls good lines and lengths. He’s very consistent in hitting the areas that are required at the Test level. He showed that in South Africa already and he’s one guy who’s really aggressive in mind.
“He wants to take the situation front on and basically make the batsmen feel uncomfortable. That’s been his biggest strength and he relishes the challenge whenever given an opportunity.
“Guys who are bowling well are the ones who are going to start. That’s something that everyone is aware of. I don’t see any issues,” he added, hinting that Umesh Yadav might miss out again.
Talking about the possibility of an additional batsman, the captain said, “Well it depends on what the surface is like. If it’s got enough and has lots of assistance for the bowlers, the extra batsman might come into play. If not, if the pitch is going to be quite even for batting and bowling, then obviously picking up 20 wickets is going to be priority.
“The batsmen will have to take responsibility and get runs on the board. If you don’t pick 20 wickets, as I said in the past, you can score as many runs as you want; it’s not about saving one discipline but one discipline taking responsibility of their job and the other discipline taking responsibility of theirs.”