Virat Kohli, captain of the Indian cricket team, has hinted that Ajinkya Rahane will open the batting for India in the first one-day international against Australia which is scheduled to take place on Sunday in Chennai. Speaking on the eve of the match, Kohli said that Rahane knows his plans are clear and India are backing him at the top of the order.
“It’s up to the player to take up a versatile position what the team requires him to do. I am not saying it’s easy. See Ajinkya Rahane plays in middle order in ODIs and Tests and then he has opened a lot in the ODIs are well. He also felt that he found it difficult to switch. Now we are backing Rahane at the top of the order so he knows his plans are clear. Once you get that balance with given that player more chances then he gets more confident of his role in the team,” he said.
“Till then there is Manish and Kedar so there will always be competition. KL is a outstanding talent and proved himself in all formats. He needs to be back because we believe he has the ability, once he gets his role done, then he will start winning you games and we are very sure of than.”
With the five-match series beginning on Sunday, Kohli said that India play every series with same intensity without thinking about who the opponent was. India recently white-washed Sri Lanka 5-0 in an away series.
“I don’t think we need to see any series differently. As I mentioned in Sri Lanka as well, your preparations should matter more than who you are playing against. You will asses the strength and weaknesses of the teams but you cannot increase or decrease you intensity according to who you are playing against. That’s not being fair to the sport and that’s something we as a team do not believe is. So, we like prepare the same way and play with same intensity regardless of who we are playing,” he said.
Talking about the balance of the team, Kohli said that if a batsman is looking to bat in the same position across formats, it will be difficult for the team to find the balance. He asked batsmen to be flexible.
“If you look to bat in the same position in all formats, then it can get very difficult for the team to find the right balance including that player. I think players need to adapt to what the team requirement is more often. For example, I have opened in T20 cricket and I would do that anyday if there is a guy who is in the middle order (who is going to strengthen the middle order). I should be flexible enough to do that. I have batted at four and top of the order as well,” he said.
India are without the top spin pair of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja atleast for the first three ODIs. But, Kohli said that most teams in the world are trying to have two all-rounders who are excellent fielders as well. He added that combination of three bowlers with two all-rounders is the new strategy.
“A lot of teams are heading that way. You need depth in batting and you need depth in bowling as well. Those two all-rounders provide that kind of balance. Someone like Hardik Pandya or Axar Patel or Ravindra Jadeja. I think we need to identify two of those guys for your side to have more strength in both the departments. That is something that all of the sides are going to move towards this because of the strength it gives in both departments alongwith being a top fielder as well. It’s very very important. You need a proper all-rounder and not just a bowling and a batting all-rounder. It’s something we have focused and we will look to continue as well,” he said.
On his personal achievements, Kohli said that he never plays to achieve the three-figure mark. He only tries to finish the game for the India and in that process he manages to score hundred. Kohli already has 30 ODI centuries in just 186 matches.
“I don’t play for the three-figure mark that’s why I end up crossing it more times because I am not thinking about it. I don’t put myself under pressure in terms of achieving a landmark. For me what’s most important is to win the game for the team. Even if I am 98 not out I don’t mind, even if I am 99 not out I don’t mind as long as we win the game. In that process things end up happening because you want to stay till the end and if there is enough on the board you end up achieving those landmarks,” he said.