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Funny how things change in just five days: Virat Kohli sparks Ajinkya Rahane debate

Virat Kohli, the Indian cricket team skipper, believes that the batsmen have come out more matured after the side lost the Cape Town Test by 72 runs to give South Africa a 1-0 lead heading into the Centurion Test.

cricket Updated: Jan 12, 2018 21:03 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Centurion
Virat Kohli,Indian national cricket team,South Africa vs India
India suffered two batting collapses in the Newlands Test as South Africa defended 208 to win the match by 72 runs.(REUTERS)

India captain Virat Kohli said there is no need to panic after the second innings batting collapse at Newlands, expressing confidence that the batsmen have come out the 72-run defeat as more matured. He however did add that they would decide about the opening combination only after training, adding to the growing suspense over the possible team combination on Saturday.

There was suspense even on the question of Ajinkya Rahane, who was left out of the Cape Town Test. Following Rohit’s failure, the questions on Rahane’s inclusion have grown. “It’s funny how things change in a matter of weeks, or just about five days.

Before the first Test no-one thought that he (Ajinkya Rahane) should be in the eleven and now suddenly people are looking at the other option. For us as a team it’s all about finding the right balance. If players fit in the kind of balance we want to go in with as a side then they will fit in,” Kohli said with a hint of frustration.

On Rahane’s inclusion, Kohli added it was not an easy decision to make. “I’m not saying that Ajinkya cannot or will not start in this game. Possibilities are all open at the moment and we shall decide after practice,” Kohli said

‘No need to panic’

The Indian skipper urged people to not panic after the 72-run loss in Newlands.

“I don’t think we need to panic because of collapses. People need to apply themselves much better. Whether we are playing five batsmen or six, you still need to apply yourself. It doesn’t mean that if you are playing six batters, you can afford to go out and play loose shots. You still need to have a solid technique and go out there and be ready to face bowling spells which are going to be difficult,” said Kohli at the pre-match press conference here on Friday.

“So I don’t think there is any need to panic on that front. And as far as the opening combination goes, we will decide today at the end of practice today what is it that we are going to go within this game. We might do something different also but there is definitely no need to panic.”

From the press box end on Friday, KL Rahul was seen walking up to the pitch and visualising the bowling. Later, Murali Vijay was seen walking down the track. If Kohli’s not too hung up on the left-right opening combo, he will have an easier time replacing Shikhar Dhawan with Rahul.

Otherwise Parthiv Patel comes into the equation and that might see Wriddhiman Saha being benched. Knowing Kohli’s preference for specialists, that might seem extreme but then again he is also infamous for not fielding the same XI in 33 consecutive Tests. Kohli has his side of story.

“The lineup has changed in the past due to conditions, also because of injuries on many occasions. That’s something that has continued for a while. The balance is as easy or as difficult as the performance of the team,” said Kohli.

“We are very happy with the way the bowlers went about the business. The batting didn’t come out well so I’m not worried on the bowling front at all. We have been in a very good space and we believe we can get them out twice again in this game. You definitely need that to win Test matches but you also need a solid batting performance. Especially when you are playing away from home, you need that 60-70-80 extra runs compared to back home because there your bowlers will be stronger.”

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 19:08 IST