Kohli praises ‘outstanding’ Kuldeep

The India captain admits the chinaman bowler “is making a strong case for himself” to be selected for the Tests against England.

Child’s play: Kuldeep Yadav celebrates a wicket with his skipper on Thursday.   -  Getty Images

India captain Virat Kohli is tempted to play his ‘key weapons’ Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the upcoming five-Test series against England, after the wrists spinners’ performances so far in the ongoing limited-overs leg of the tour.

Kohli spoke after India’s comfortable victory in the first ODI. He said, “Anything is possible with the selections for Tests and there might be a few surprises. Kuldeep is making a strong case for himself and so is Chahal. And looking at the way, the English batsmen have struggled against them, we might be tempted to do it.”

While Kuldeep has already played two Tests, Chahal is yet to earn the coveted cap in the longest version of the game.

‘Very welcoming’ trip

Kohli, however, chooses to stay in the present. “The focus now is winning the next two games. Especially the next game, looking at it from the series perspective. The weather has been lovely. It has been very welcoming. The crowd support has been brilliant. The tour is really long and there is some tough cricket ahead of us which we are looking forward to,” he added.

Read: Kuldeep hoping for Test call

Kuldeep has made a big impression in the tour so far, having already claimed 18 wickets. In the opening ODI, he set up a comprehensive win with a career-best six for 25.

Kuldeep and Chahal have served as a potent pair in limited-overs matches after they were preferred over the experienced R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in these formats. And now, it seems the wrist-spinners may earn a call-up in the five-day format as well.

‘Outstanding’ Kuldeep

Besides Kuldeep, Kohli reserved his praise for vice-captain Rohit Sharma, who scored an unbeaten 137. Summing up the value of their performances, he said, “Those wrist spinners in the middle overs are going to be tricky. Given more overs and more time in the middle, they become even more lethal. Kuldeep was outstanding. To give away 25 runs and pick up 6 wickets on that kind of a wicket, I don’t think I have seen a better spell of bowling in ODIs of late. After that, Rohit batted very long and finished the game for us. We made a tactical decision [at Bristol] looking at the dimensions of the ground and the breeze flowing into the shorter boundary.”

Read: Alex Hales out of India series

He added, “When it comes to longer game, you need players to make an impact. These two wrist spinners have been making the difference since they have come in. They did it in South Africa in the middle overs. They remain as our key weapons.”

England ‘well off the mark’

England captain Eoin Morgan said his team will have to improve against Indian spinners if it has to bounce back in the series. He said, “Playing spin against India is one challenge that hopefully we will keep improving upon. But today we were well off the mark. I think both the games there has been more turn than on the grounds that we have played on and that is one thing probably that we have identified.”

He added, “I think Lord’s (second ODI) will be different as it won’t offer a great deal of turn. But certainly he (Kuldeep) extracted more turn out of this than any other spinner. We need to improve as a side. The seamers on this wicket come on to the bat and hence the high scoring nature of the ground. We need to expose our areas of weakness before the World Cup and this seems to be one of them.”

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