India vs West Indies: Series sweep in sight, Virat Kohli & Co count on gen-next
Skipper Virat Kohli is over the moon with what some of the youngsters have brought to the table and is confident that India’s next generation of cricket stars have crossed the production line.cricket Updated: Oct 11, 2018 17:25 IST
The West Indies series sandwiched between the testing ones in England and Australia may not be an ideal way to iron out the flaws exposed in their recent 4-1 loss, but India are already taking positives from it before going Down Under.
Skipper Virat Kohli is over the moon with what some of the youngsters have brought to the table and is confident that India’s next generation of cricket stars have crossed the production line.
Prithvi Shaw has already become the find of this low profile West Indies series after his debut century in Rajkot and England has thrown up the likes of Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari. Pant, getting a look in after Wriddhiman Saha was injured, had a decent show with the gloves and impressed with a century at The Oval. Vihari too chipped in with a solid half-century and three wickets at the Kennington Oval, albeit in a lost cause.
With the three proving mettle, India now have a batsman who can keep, a solid opener and an orthodox off-spinning all-rounder to balance a pace-bowling all-rounder in Hardik Pandya.
And with Virat very comfortable with changes in the playing XI, more youngsters could fancy a look into the longest format of the game.
The India skipper said he believed the youngsters getting into the side now are much better groomed to take on international cricket than debutants 10 or 15 years back and India are reaping the benefits of having the high profile Indian Premier League.
“They’re (youngsters) already exposed to the environment that an international game would replicate,” Kohli said a day before India’s second Test against West Indies here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium here.
“But there’s always pressure of playing for the country. When you get that cap in the morning of the game, there’s always butterflies in the stomach and I’m sure everyone feels that pressure but I’m sure it’s not as intense as 10-15 years back, when you didn’t have any exposure in this kind of cricket and suddenly you’re put out there in a Test match making your debut for India – the highest or toughest thing there could be,” he said.
“But they have played in situations in the IPL where they play in front of so many people that they’re not nervous anymore of the big stage. Yes they might have that eagerness to perform or the pressure to perform. But I think they’re not overawed by the situation and I think that’s always going to be an advantage because the guys coming in can start doing the job from game one. Both these young guys (Pant and Shaw) have done that and Hanuma as well. They’re supremely confident guys who are coming up,” Kohli said.
The skipper, however, was quick to throw in a disclaimer and added: “I don’t think Shaw should be rushed into anything yet because you need to give a youngster a space to grow. This guy is supremely talented and he has got great ability as everyone saw. We definitely think he has it in him to play at the highest level and he can repeat what he did in the first game. He is a very keen learner and he is a sharp guy. He understands situations well. We are all very happy for him.
“But we shouldn’t compare to him to anyone yet. We shouldn’t put him in a space where he feels pressure of any kind and he should be left in a space where he enjoys his cricket and slowly grow into a player we all believe he can become,” Kohli said.
The wicket here is likely to give Shaw a chance to repeat his Rajkot show and he was all focused at the nets on Thursday morning. He did not bat but team sources said he doesn’t a day before the match. The wicket, which West Indies skipper Jason Holder described as “completely dry with lots of cracks” but “different from Rajkot”, was described by Kohli as a wicket — he had a close look at it on Thursday morning and got hit on his shin by an overthrow from his teammates — that will last and “there’s a decent covering of grass on the pitch, the surface is also hard so if you bowl well you can take wickets and if you bat well you can score runs.”
First Published: Oct 11, 2018 17:25 IST