India skipper Virat Kohli said yesterday he is backing his wrist spinners to give his team the edge over a rampant ODI England side in their upcoming mammoth tour.
“What’s been the difference for us is the two X-factors we have in the middle overs,” Kohli said, referring to Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
“We have actually been able to create flat wickets into wicket-taking wickets with the variety we have in the attack,” he told a pre-departure news conference.
This is what “did the job” in India’s recent 5-1 ODI series triumph in South Africa, Kohli said, with Chahal and Yadav sharing 33 wickets between them.
England are in fine form, however, currently one victory away from a 5-0 ODI whitewash against Australia after smashing some record-breaking batting totals. This included a huge 481-6 at Trent Bridge earlier this week and chasing down an eminently respectable 310 with 32 balls to spare at Chester-le-Street on Thursday.
The batsmen have been helped by the use of two new balls, and white instead of red, which has massively reduced the danger posed by swing bowling. This has irked the likes of former England capital Michael Atherton and India legend Sachin Tendulkar, and Kohli agreed it has been “brutal” for the bowlers.
However the India captain, the second-ranked Test batsman in the world and the best in ODIs, didn’t appear worried.
“If the pitch is flat then you have no way out unless you have wrist spinners who do the job in the middle overs,” he said.
“Not every side has that cushion so they find it difficult.”
The Indian side will first play two Twenty20 internationals in Ireland starting on June 27 before moving on to England for the next three months.
There India will play three T20 matches, three one-day internationals and five Tests, starting with a 20-over game in Manchester on July 3. Kohli said that in the Tests, when the ball will most definitely swing for England danger-men James Anderson and Stuart Broad, India will fight fire with fire. “The swinging ball has the tendency to trouble the best of batsmen. But then that helps our fast bowlers as well,” the 29-year-old said.
And he said that having the ODI series first will help. “By the time the Test series arrives, we won’t feel like we are playing an away series,” Kohli said.
Kohli had an uncharacteristically ordinary spell during his last England tour in 2014, managing just 134 runs in 10 innings. But the top-order batsman, who pulled out of his county stint with Surrey after a neck injury during the Indian Premier League, insisted that he is fit and raring to go.
He said he was “excited to get back to the field which is rare in times when we play so much cricket.” The world’s top Test side, often labelled tigers at home and lambs abroad, were lauded for their recent performance in South Africa.
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