Whether it’s Shikhar Dhawan or Abhinav Mukund, whoever opens alongside KL Rahul in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle should treat this as an opportunity rather than feel the pressure to perform, India skipper Virat Kohli said today.
The skipper termed regular Test opener Murali Vijay’s wrist injury as “unfortunate” but also praised his players being honest about their fitness status.
“Every player comes to the team wanting to perform. Injuries are unfortunate part of sport. Vijay was back from rehab and played a game and told selectors he was not match fit. That is the kind of culture being created. People are honest,” Kohli said during his arrival media conference.
“Abhinav (Mukund) is there, he has played lot of domestic cricket. Shikhar got a hundred here last time and then he had to miss couple of games.
“(Cheteshwar) Pujara opened in the last Test (in Dharamsala). So guys are looking these scenarios as opportunities rather than getting under pressure. I am sure they are going to be up for it,” said Kohli admitting that the team will have to make a mental change from white ball to red ball cricket.
Sri Lanka performed shoddily against Zimbabwe in the recently concluded series where they even lost the ODI rubber.
But Kohli insisted that they are not taking Sri Lanka lightly.
“Not at all. I remember we came here two years back after tour of Australia, we were six or seven in the rankings. That particular series in Sri Lanka gave us belief. It taught us to come together as a team. Everyone in the team knows this is where it all started after losing the first Test in Galle. It was a dent for us.
“The way we came together in the last tour is iconic for us,” said Kohli referring to the 2-1 win in the 2015 Test series, which was his first as full-time captain.
Sri Lanka are a team in transition but Kohli expects them to put up more than a fight.
“We know we have to work very hard. You have to respect the game. You have to be professional,” said Kohli when asked what it takes to be the number one Test side.
Sri Lanka senior spinner Rangana Herath took 15 wickets in the last series two years with seven of them coming in the victorious Galle Test.
“He is such a good bowler. If you don’t find a solution to tackle him, then he will do what he did at Galle. You have to stay a step ahead of the opposition and find ways to counter it. If mistakes happen consistently and then you are not improving as a side,” Kohli stated.
Ravi Shastri insisted that his team will play fearless cricket but is that simple, Kohli quipped: “Yes it is.”
“All you need is that players are in the frame of mind so that they can be at their best. After you take the field, you are expected to take over and adapt to situations. That is something have been doing well in the past few years.”