Skipper Virat Kohli yesterday hailed India’s rotation policy for helping unearth his side’s potent new spin attack of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. The batsman said giving younger and more inexperienced players a go was crucial as India try to build the strongest squad possible for the 2019 World Cup.
“We are giving chances to guys who we think have the ability to perform at this level,” Kohli said ahead of the opening one-day international against New Zealand in Mumbai. “It is something we need to experiment with, to find our best bowling combination before we can reach the World Cup stage,” he added.
Kohli lavished praise on 22-year-old Kuldeep and Chahal, 27, for grasping the opportunity they had been given with both hands. The duo have established themselves as India’s latest attacking combination in recent weeks, keeping veterans Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja out of the team.
Kuldeep has quickly emerged as one of the world’s best slow bowlers since taking four wickets in his Test debut against Australia in Dharamsala in March. He also played a big role in India’s recent 4-1 ODI series victory over Australia, taking a hat-trick in the second match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Kuldeep has been well supported by Chahal, who tormented the Australians with his deceptive leg spinners to bag six wickets in four matches. “It’s a combination of giving guys chances as well as understanding the workload of bowlers who have played a for a while,” said Kohli.
“Ashwin and Jadeja have played for the last six, seven years limited-overs cricket for us regularly. Also we don’t want the bowlers to be over-exposed, especially those playing (all) formats, which can hamper their rhythm in the most important for us in the Test cricket. These youngsters have stepped up. It creates a strong pool for us before the World Cup,” he added.
India, ranked second in the world in 50-overs cricket, play the first of three ODIs against New Zealand at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium today. They can regain the top spot from South Africa if they win the series 3-0. The second ODI takes place in Pune on Wednesday, with the third in Kanpur on October 29.
Kohli stressed the importance of playing good cricket, instead of focusing on rankings. “We don’t think of rankings. Points are tied. We had a rest period, South Africa are playing games in that period, so you can’t really pinpoint some things, you can’t be frustrated sitting at home that your ranking is gone and stuff like that,” said Kohli.
“We just want to play good cricket. We’ve been doing that and it continues to be our main goal. We are happy with what we are doing as a team at the moment. These things will go up and down because not all teams play together. Even for batsmen you play at different stages, someone goes up in points someone doesn’t. It doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, you have to contribute towards the team’s win. Rankings, ratings are definitely incentives of doing well, but that’s not the ultimate goal. he added.
Kohli also clarified that the team management felt the need of an extra middle-order batsman, paving the way for an entry for Dinesh Karthik as opener KL Rahul was excluded.
“We look to give chances to players who have the ability to perform at this level. At the same time, we have to strike a right balance between youth and experience. DK (Karthik) has come in for KL (Rahul), because we didn’t want a situation that happened with Jinx (Rahane), who was forced to bat in the middle-order. Rahul has usually opened for the state team while Karthik bats regularly in the middle-order.” Kohli reasoned.
Indian players (from left) Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma watch as their teammates take part in a training session at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, ahead of the first ODI against New Zealand, yesterday. (AFP)