No fixed positions for anyone, says skipper Kohli after series win
Virat Kohli rang in number of changes in third Test, most of which proved detrimental to India’s win.cricket Updated: Aug 14, 2016 12:28 IST
In the three Tests so far, Virat Kohli rang in few significant changes --- R Ashwin was given the No.6 position in the Antigua Test, Umesh Yadav and Amit Mishra were replaced by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja in the St Lucia Test while Rohit Sharma came in place of Cheteshwar Pujara to bat at No.4, prompting Kohli to come at No.3.
Looking back now, every change played a role in India’s series victory against West Indies. Ashwin’s promotion has possibly played the most defining part --- scoring centuries in both Tests India have won. Kumar returned to St Lucia from a hiatus of over a year to take a five-wicket haul in the first innings and create the possibility of a win. Jadeja conceded just 27 runs in 24 overs in the first innings which meant even though West Indies were looking to bat out time in the first innings, they couldn’t run away with the game and ultimately capitulated. Rohit failed in the first innings before coming good for a 59-ball 41 that gave India a handy lead. Only Kohli got scores of 3 and 4 in both innings at a position where he had batted only four times before this Test.
As a captain though, Kohli would take the results any day. “Usually if you see very few people like change. This team doesn’t think how others would react or what they might say. We put out a combination that’s best according to the pitch,” said Kohli after the match.
“When I came at No.3 many people asked why I did it. But I am not fixated with that batting spot (No.4). If the team needs, I can open the batting too because that’s the rule applicable to everyone in the team. It’s not as if I will stay at No.4 and others will shuffle their positions. To field a player like Rohit Sharma we had to make him bat at No.5. To make that happen the other players will go one place up the order. That’s what we did,” said Kohli before mentioning that batting at No.3 isn’t totally an alien concept to him.
“No.3 comes more naturally to me because I have played 170-180 ODIs and I have batted 130 ODIs at 3. I don’t mind being into the game early. I have always been the kind of player who wants to get into the action quickly. This position, I don’t mind too much either. If I have to bat four, I will. I have batted at five in the past, at six. Three, I haven’t batted too much in Test cricket, but I have batted enough in other forms in international cricket to not feel uncomfortable,” he said.
Replacing Yadav was another decision that had to be taken in order to stay on top of West Indies. “We replaced Umesh with Bhuvneshwar because we felt that since the ground is so good it would be easier to maintain the shine on the ball. The pitch was also hard so there was carry. He gave us the results, gave us breakthroughs with the second new ball. Someone like him coming in, he thought about this as an opportunity rather than a pressure situation of having to perform,” he said.
And even though Jadeja didn’t chip in with wickets or runs, his miserly spells helped India build pressure as Kumar attacked from the other end. “You might not realise the importance he has in the bowling unit, because you might not see four-five wickets in front of his name, but the kind of pressure he creates for others is priceless. That’s bowling in partnerships. He does that job beautifully for the other bowlers,” said Kohli.
“If you make three changes you might feel that it might to be too strong a reaction. But we realised that if we have to seal the series here then we had to make changes according to the conditions. We will not wait for another match because you never know if you play one or two bad sessions the series could be leveled,” he said.