Kohli: "There will be opinions but we do keep best interests of team in mind"

Captain Virat Kohli is well aware that India’s playing XIs in Test matches are a subject of intense debate but insists that all decisions are taken keeping in mind the “best interests of the team.”

Kohli: “Vihari got a nod because combination is important. He’s an effective part-time bowler and helps us when we need to catch up with the over-rate.”   -  ap

Captain Virat Kohli is well aware that India’s playing XIs in Test matches are a subject of intense debate but insists that all decisions are taken keeping in mind the “best interests of the team.”

India thrashed the West Indies by 318 runs in its inaugural World Test Championship encounter but at the onset, there was a debate on the omission of senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. The legendary Sunil Gavaskar termed his exclusion as “astonishing”.

But the lone specialist spinner Ravindra Jadeja did his bit, scoring a timely half-century in the first innings along with a couple of wickets vindicating Kohli’s decision.

“We have a group discussion and then we decide what’s best for the team. There will always be opinions about the XI, but people will know that it’s in the interest of the team,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Kohli’s preference for Hanuma Vihari over limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma also worked wonderfully with the Andhra Pradesh-player scoring 93 in the second innings after looking good during a 32 in the first essay.

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Workload management

“Vihari got a nod because combination is important. He’s an effective part-time bowler and helps us when we need to catch up with the over-rate.”

Just like white-ball cricket, Jasprit Bumrah’s form and fitness are paramount in the red ball set-up also. And the captain understands that only too well.

“Bumrah’s workload is most important which is why he didn’t play any white-ball games (vs WI) after the World Cup. He will be a key factor for us as long as the World Test Championship continues.

“Shami is the same and Ishant is a banker, always reliable. Umesh is there too and Navdeep is waiting in the wings. We are settled as our bowling options, but managing workloads will be important,” Kohli said.

He was all praise for man of the match Ajinkya Rahane, who is back in form with scores of 81 and 102 in both innings.

“Jinx excellent in both innings, KL solid in both innings too. Mention to Vihari too. We had to come back in this game 3-4 times, so that is a positive moving forward from Australia,” said the skipper.

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Team effort

Kohli said he is happy to be in a position where he has a team which is executing most of the decisions taken by him.

“I am taking decisions, yes, but execution is done by others who raise their hand. We enjoy everyone’s company, and that’s the reason for our success,” he said.

“It’s a blessing that I am in a position where I can contribute to the team in more than one way, but nothing is possible without your team. I don’t think the credit can be taken away from the team at all.”