England coach Trevor Bayliss feels the seemingly peerless Virat Kohli can be put under pressure if the home team’s bowlers can continue to tame the rest of the Indian line-up in the ongoing Test series.
“If Virat Kohli is not the best batsman (in the world), he’s very close to it. The way he played the first and second innings was high-class stuff. If we can put pressure on the other batsmen in the Indian team, that’s going to add to the pressure on him,” Bayliss told reporters.
“I don’t think it’s any different for us. We’ve got a few guys who are not necessarily cemented in the team and that put extra pressure on people like Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow,” said Bayliss.
India lost the first Test here by 31 runs after two successive batting collapses, during which Kohli stood out with his heroics — a hundred in the first innings and a half century in the second essay.
“In this first Test, the four innings had wickets falling left, right and center – all batsmen were in trouble, even Kohli, who I don’t think was all that comfortable early on. It was difficult to bat, probably more difficult than it looked from outside,” he added.
Bayliss said he expects the Indian team to learn quickly from the mistakes committed while tackling the moving ball just as his team would look to address its weak handling of spin, in the remaining four matches of the series.
“India are a very good team. We’re very much in the hunt here. When the ball’s moving, we’ve shown that a few of their guys do struggle against the moving ball. I’m sure that they’ll be going away working out how they can play it as we’re going working on how to play the off spin,” he added.
All-rounder Ben Stokes will be appearing in Bristol Court on Monday to answer charges of affray during a pub brawl. England have drafted in pacer Chris Woakes as replacement with 20-year-old batsman Oliver Pope getting his maiden call-up in place of Dawid Malan.
Bayliss said the home team is well-settled.
“His (Stokes’) preparation and approach was no different to what we’ve seen before. You wouldn’t have known there was anything coming up. He’s been absolutely golden. It will be interesting to see who can step up and take his place,” Bayliss said.
“(But) I’ve got no concerns about it. Ben has no concerns about it as well. Obviously it’s something we would have liked to not be happening,” he added.
Talking about Woakes’ recall, he said, “Chris was fine here. We had him bowling in the nets. One of first practice days here, he bowled 14 overs in the nets. He’s gone back and played a couple of T20 games and back into match mode. Fitness wise he should be fine.”
Pope’s inclusion means one more left-hander in the English line-up for R Ashwin to bowl against. Bayliss said this factor wasn’t and won’t be a concern when picking the playing eleven at Lord’s.
He also agreed with Ashwin’s remark that Dukes ball is the best for Test cricket at the moment.
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“We’re not going to pick a second-best team because they’re all right-handers. Certainly, with Ashwin bowling so well to all batsmen but obviously to the left-handers, we’ll have to have a bit of a chat and see how we might be able to play him a little different.
“It would be nice (to get Dukes in all Tests). It gets a bit of sideways movement. I’m a fan of Test cricket and you watch these games and some of these lower scores they do, most of the time, give a good Test match for the fans,” said Bayliss.
The other cause of concern for England will be their slip catching. The hosts have only a slightly better record catching against pacers than India. Both Malan and Shikhar Dhawan dropped a few sitters in the slips, which, in fact, helped shape the see-saw Test.
“Dawid said it himself, he tied his shoes on his hands for this match. (But) We’ve got our best slippers in there at the moment. Buttler’s only just entered the team and he’s seems to be going pretty well there. Keaton Jennings looks like he moves pretty well in there.
“It is just a confidence thing. We’re doing plenty of work on it. It’s just disappointing, more so for them than anyone else,” he said.