On the eve of the opening ODI against Australia, Virat Kohli said he is not worried about the possibility of chopping and changing of plans should Hardik Pandya be banned for his comments made on TV show Koffee with Karan. Kohli stated the team has a fall back option in Ravindra Jadeja if Pandya is barred from the ODI at SCG.
“We played in India against the West Indies with a finger spinner and a wrist spinner. So it’s good that we have someone like Jadeja who can do the all-rounder’s role if a scenario like that occurs,” Kohli said on the eve of the first ODI against Australia. “So we are not too stressed as a team (about the Pandya situation) because you’ll always have things that you can do in terms of creating that balance for the side. And hence, we keep players who can provide balance with bat and ball as a backup anyway,” he added.
Kohli clarified that the team doesn’t stand by the duo on their controversial statements which have somewhat tarnished the high of India’s maiden Test series win Down Under.
With an eye on the World Cup, Kohli said there isn’t much of chopping and changing required. However, he did concede that form and fitness could be decisive for a couple of places. “I don’t think we will have too much of trouble if we have to change our combinations. We are pretty comfortable as a side and any combination that we go in with,” he said. “The fact we have not many games left before the World Cup and hence we want to play the side that more or less will feature in the World Cup. The exceptional case of Jasprit Bumrah being rested is purely because of the workload in the Test series. But apart from that I don’t think combination-wise we are going to look to tinker too much,” he said.
“…a couple of spots which might need rectification will be looked at but apart from that the idea is to make that combination and that team play together for the whole period left before the World Cup,” said Kohli.
With a possible of no Pandya and Bumrah being rested, Kohli acknowledged it is a chance for the others to step up and steal the limelight ahead of the World Cup. “What’s exciting is that Bhuvneshwar Kumar is coming back into the scenario. He’s been working hard during the Tests. Khaleel Ahmed has done well when given the opportunities. Mohammed Shami has the skill to provide you breakthroughs with the new ball. So he has the chance to establish himself as the member of the pace quartet or how many ever will go to the World Cup.”
Kohli said even Mohammed Siraj, who has come in as a replacement for Bumrah, has a chance to get the selectors thinking. “Look those spots are up for grabs and we’ve been wanting to do that for a while. We’ve wanted to figure out who apart from Kumar and Bumrah are the two or three more guys we can bank on. And these games will provide an opportunity for those guys to firstly present their case strongly…I think it’s a great opportunity for all these guys who are going to step in to show what they have and seal a spot for themselves,” Kohli said.
The skipper said the team is buoyed with what it achieved in the Test series and the World Cup will only inspire it afresh for the challenges ahead. “…just to see the relief on the players’ faces, and someone like Cheteshwar Pujara smiling and so happy about what he’d achieved, and Bumrah being content in his own space,” he recalled. “You could feel a sense of total confidence, just those guys sitting around and feeling like they have their own identity as Indian cricketers and as a team we have our own identity,” he said.
Kohli felt the Indian team is perfectly balanced in every aspect. “The bowling has been balanced too. In one-day cricket, any team can beat you on any given day. But as a team you have to give your best and take your strongest eleven. And we feel as a one-day team we are on the right track, and are on our full strength,” he said.
Big Bash for Kohli after retirement?
— BCCI (@BCCI) 11 January 2019
Clearly head and shoulders above the rest in world cricket at the moment, Kohli said he wouldn’t even be “seen around the scene” the day he is “totally spent” to pick up the bat again.
Responding to a query on whether he would consider playing in the Australian Big Bash league (BBL) after retiring provided BCCI lifts the bar on its players playing in international leagues, Kohli said he would not be around for such a stint.
“Look I don’t know whether that stance is going to change in the future. As far as I am concerned, playing more cricket when I am done, I don’t think I am in that zone to be honest,” the 30-year-old said.
Retired cricketers such as AB de Villiers and Brendon McCullum are regularly seen playing in T20 leagues such as the IPL and Big Bash but Kohli says he isn’t interested in joining them in the future. “I have played enough cricket in the last five years and I cannot comment on even the first thing I do when I retire because I don’t feel like I am going to pick up the bat again,” he said.
“I will be spent, the day I finish I will be totally spent and that’s the reason I am going to stop playing cricket. So I don’t see myself coming back and playing again. Once I am done, I will be done, and I won’t be seen around the scene,” Kohli said.