Virat Kohli is back as captain of the Indian cricket team and the equation between himself and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who led India to a historic series win in Australia, is based on trust and mutual respect, said Kohli on the eve of the first Test against England. He also revealed that Rishabh Pant will take the gloves in the first Test. “Things are very different from outside compared to what happens inside the dressing room. Not just between me and him (Rahane) but the whole team, camaraderie is based on trust. It was amazing to see how he led the team to win in Australia. It’s the mutual respect, bonding, on and off the field. The partnership will remain the same as ever.”
On Pant starting in the Chennai Test, Kohli said: “Rishabh will take the gloves tomorrow. He has had impact performances in Australia recently. He is in good space. We want him to build on this along with him improving all aspects of the game, which will happen with more game time.
“He has come along very nicely. He wasn’t part of white ball formats, but he kept working hard on his fitness, on his games. We have backed him quite a lot and for good reason – something you saw in Australia.
He will continue to be backed. With his hard work he can be a very very consistent match winner and someone the opposition will be wary of in the future.”
With Kohli returning to the team and India returning home from Australia, the combination is likely to change as well.’ With more assistance for spinners at home, players like Kuldeep Yadav are likely to come back in the team as well.
“It’s a delicate balance that we have. Kuldeep hasn’t had much of game time in the longest format for a while now. In New Zealand the conditions were not suited for playing three spinners, something he understood,” Kohli said.
“Now that the home seasons starts he will be in the scheme of things. He will be in the team’s plans.”
With Ravindra Jadeja unavailable, India are missing a key all-rounder in the XI and Kohli said bowlers who have the ability to bat in addition to bowling will get the preference.
“With the bowling combinations, we will try to give ourselves as many options as possible. Guys having the ability to contribute with the bat – that’s been the pattern for success for us in home conditions,” Kohli said.
On the pitch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Kohli said: “The pitch is a normal Chepauk pitch. It’s a nice batting track with spinners getting assistance. But the track is good enough for fast bowlers to stay in the game also, so generally it is a good cricketing wicket.”
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