Putting all the confusion regarding India’s opening pair for the Mumbai Test to rest, India captain Virat Kohli said that Murali Vijay and KL Rahul, who is returning to the side after an injury, will be the openers in the fourth Test against Mumbai at the Wankhede stadium which begins on Thursday.
Speaking at the pre-match presser, Kohli stressed that the two batsmen are not used to batting at any other positions than the opening slots and they will continue to bat the same spot even though Parthiv Patel, who opened in the last match in place of Rahul, scored an unbeaten half-century in Mohali.
“There is do doubt that Rahul and Vijay will be opening the batting for us. These two are batsmen who have not batted at any other positions. They will continue to be our specialist openers for the Mumbai Test,” Kohli said.
Rahul returns to the team after missing out on the third Test, which India won in Mohali, due to an injury he exaggerated in the Vizag Test. He had earlier suffered a hamstring injury during the New Zealand series which forced him to miss the last two Tests of the that series and the first Test of the England series.
The call on Mohammed Shami’s fitness will be taken on Wednesday evening as Kohli said that they will assess how he is feeling with his knee.
“After the Mohali Test, Shami felt bit of soreness in his knee. We need to take a collective call on that. He has had a history of knee surgeries so don’t want to push him and lose him for the complete season,” he said.
Kohli also spoke about the lack of form of Vijay and middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane. The captain defended the two batsmen, calling then “solid”.
“As far as Vijay and Rahane are concerned, both are solid batsmen and Vijay even got a century in the first Test. I also didn’t have scores too be proud of in the New Zealand series so Rahane covered up. It is all about covering up for the other batsmen and this is how we play,” Kohli said.
After the century in the first Test, Vijay has made only 63 runs in the five innings he has batted. He has also been troubled by the rising ball which England used to dismiss him in the Mohali Test.
Rahane, who scored a century in the final Test against New Zealand in Indore, has also scored only 63 runs in the five innings he has batted in the three Tests against England.
The Test will begin after a eight-day gap after the third Test and Kohli feels that this gap will benefit the team.
“We did not ask for the break. It was part of the schedule. It was good as we could reflect on the two games that we won. I think it is going to benefit the team. It is important we get breaks. Between the series you cannot completely switch-off while on the break. You have to keep thinking about what you can do. As a captain you have to think what combinations you can play, how will the wicket play but this not be too much. It is important to enjoy life away from your profession,” he said.
“In out country it is seen with a different perspective. We have to focus on only cricket. But as an individual you have to decide how much stress you want to take mentally. After all, your performance depends on yourself.