Former captain Sunil Gavaskar said that Virat Kohli should consider playing in the final Test against Australia starting Saturday even if he is not fully fit if the team management feels his presence will boost the side in the series decider.
At the pre-match press conference in Dharamsala, Kohli said that he will play in the fourth and final Test only if he is 100 per cent fit.
But, Gavaskar said that the team management should decide whether Kohli’s value as a player and captain makes him a must-have in the playing eleven even if he is short of full fitness.
“Virat personally would want to go in as 100 per cent fit because that is what he would have expected from any other player in the team. He would not want another player in the team to hide an injury and then later found out (about an injury) because it is a five-day Test,” Gavaskar said.
“So, Virat personally would want to be 100 per cent but if the team feels that he is a must-have for this deciding game, the team will have to convince him that, look you might be 40, 50, or whatever per cent fit, we want you.
“Even if he (Kohli) is 70 per cent fit, the team management will have to decide whether his presence is going to energise the team. If so, then Virat will have to play and you have to convince him that the team wants him even if he is 70 per cent fit,” Gavaskar told NDTV.
Gavaskar gave an example of asking Kapil Dev to play on the final day of a Test match in Melbourne in 1981 even though the legendary pacer was not fully fit.
“I asked Kapil on the fourth day evening whether he can bowl just one hour on the final day. Australia were 40-odd and three wickets down and they needed to score 100-odd runs to win the Test. We needed seven wickets. Kapil bowled with pain killers and he took five wickets and the rest was history,” said Gavaskar.
“I knew his (Kapil’s) value to the team. His 70 per cent fitness was enough for the team. So, the Indian team management will have to decide on Virat’s case also,” he added.
Even in case Kohli does not play in the final Test, Gavaskar said Australia will not have the mental edge over the Indians.
“I would say no team has the edge, there is not much gap between the two sides. Indians will not be too disadvantaged even if Virat does not play. They have the ability to regroup and pick themselves up.
“Without Virat, it will be clearly a challenge for India and the Aussies may feel a hurdle is out of their way. But the way the Indians have responded, they will come out all guns firing in Dharamsala.”
Gavaskar also said that he would love to play pacer Mohammed Shami if he is declared fit in a five batsmen and five bowler combination.
“I would like Shami to come in if he is fit and if the team management thinks that he can bowl 20 overs in a day.
“A fresh pair of legs in Shami can give the initial breakthroughs and that will make it easier for R Ashwin and Jadeja as well as the other pacers at the other end in the old combination of five batsmen and five bowlers.”