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India vs England: We don’t feel the need to change anything, says Kohli ahead of Southampton Test

Kohli hoped India players would cash in on their experience and put in extra hard work than they did at Trent Bridge.

cricket Updated: Aug 29, 2018 20:51 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Southampton
India vs England,Ind v Eng,Virat Kohli
Cricket - India Press Conference - Ageas Bowl, West End, Britain - August 29, 2018 India's Virat Kohli during the press conference. (REUTERS)

India may retain the same playing eleven for the first time after 38 Tests under Virat Kohli with the India skipper declaring R Ashwin fit to play in the fourth Test against England starting at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday.

“We don’t feel we need to change anything,” Kohli, who will be leading India in his 39th Test, told a media conference on Wednesday. With India openers Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul making vital contributions to the 203-run win at Trent Bridge, the possibility of changes had receded.

Off-spinner Ashwin suffered an adductor muscle problem, but Kohli said: “Everyone is fit to start tomorrow. Ashwin has recovered nicely. He had a good practice session yesterday and he is good to go.”

“It has not always been the case of changes. There have been injuries as well, which has not been taken into consideration. It has been a mix. Seeing things the way they are right now, we don’t see any need to change anything.”

Kohli hoped India players would cash in on their experience and put in extra hard work than they did at Trent Bridge. “Maybe four years ago, we didn’t capitalise on the lead,” he said, referring to India squandering a 1-0 lead in 2014 after losing the next three games, starting with a heavy defeat in Southampton in the third Test.

WORK HARDER

“Right now we are in a very exciting position. To have played like that when 2-0 down, everyone thought it is going to be clean sweep, we’re going to get rolled over,” he said. “We spoke about being ruthless, relentless and capitalising on those important moments, which we did in Nottingham. We’ve to do that two more times to achieve the goal we want to, and not be satisfied with one victory. If Nottingham was hard work, this is going to be harder because England would want to come back strong.”

However, the India skipper ruled out playing an all-pace attack and felt spinners will play a role at the Ageas Bowl. “If the pitch is like it was in Johannesburg, we will have no doubts about playing an all-pace attack,” he said, referring to the third Test in January, which India won on an uneven pitch. “I don’t think this pitch is anywhere close to that. I doubt an all-pace attack is the right option. It doesn’t make much sense because the last time we played here, spinners came into play in the second innings.

“The surface is pretty hard and once it wears out, there can be big footmarks and the spinners can get a lot. That is how I see it right now.”

SMART BOWLING

He backed Mohammed Shami’s motto that pacers must break a Test into segments to stay focused on their task.

“It is quite a smart thing on the bowlers’ part,” Kohli said. “The key to really slowing things down is having an attacking field but bowling in areas where you don’t let the batsmen score. It doesn’t mean putting all fielders in the boundary. It means still having wicket-taking options but bowlers having enough control to not give runs in that particular period. That is what the bowlers have been working on, and they have been outstanding… It is great the bowlers are recognising that; they’re willing to change.”

Kohli urged his batsmen to keep an open mind on a pitch expected to afford slow bounce to seamers. “I don’t feel like any need to change, or for any batsmen from how they played in the last game. But we don’t want to be rigid; if the wicket is going to behave differently, you want to be flexible and not go out there with pre-conceived notions.”

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 20:45 IST