Kohli right to skip Afghanistan Test, says Vengsarkar

The former chairman of the national selection committee believes Virat Kohli must “get into the groove before the Test series” and a county stint with Surrey will help him do that.

Virat Kohli will be hoping to better his Test record in England when India tours this season.   -  AP

Virat Kohli has taken the right decision to skip the one-off Test against Afghanistan in June to play county cricket for Surrey, believes Dilip Vengsarkar. Kohli’s county stint assumes significance ahead of India’s long tour of England that includes a five-Test series.

A former chairman of the national selection committee and one who fast-tracked Kohli’s international debut, Vengsarkar is cognizant of the challenges of English conditions. In 13 Tests in England, Vengsarkar has scored 960 runs at 48.00 and with four centuries (including three at Lord’s) and as many half-centuries.

England seems to have been Kohli’s achilles heel. In the five Tests in 2014, his scores were — 1 and 8 at Trent Bridge, 25 and 0 at Lord’s, 39 and 28 at Rose Bowl, 0 and 7 at Old Trafford, and 6 and 20 at The Oval. He fell to seamers Stuart Broad (twice), Jimmy Anderson (four times), Chris Jordon (twice), Liam Plunkett and Moeen Ali (once each).

‘Good decision’

When asked about Kohli’s call to turn out for Surrey and prepare for the England series, Vengsarkar said: “It is a good decision because he (Virat) will get time to acclimatise to the conditions in England. The last England tour was not good for him, so he is very keen to do well this time. If I were a selector, I would have asked [Cheteshwar] Pujara to stay back and play county cricket [for Yorkshire], because he is one of the guys who will play in England. Playing against Afghanistan makes no sense; it defies logic to me. He has not been consistent so far in county cricket and he should get more chances, score runs and get into the groove before the Test series.”

Read: Pakistan to play Ireland again in next FTP

Responding to another question pertaining to the requirement for Test openers to get acclimatised to English conditions, Vengsarkar said: “To be honest, the Afghanistan Test match has been wrongly scheduled. That’s what I feel. The focus should have been on the tour of England.”

‘Good itinerary’

Vengsarkar was, however, pleased with India’s itinerary for England tour. “Comparing the itinerary with the previous tours, this is a good itinerary because India has got enough games to play before the first Test match. The full team will get sufficient time to get acclimatised. The last time in in South Africa, the team hardly got a match before the first Test. The England tour is nicely scheduled.”

Acknowledging Kohli’s rise in the last four years, Vengsarkar said: “He is the best batsman in the world. He has established himself as the No. 1 batsman, so we expect a lot of things from him and I am sure he will do well in England. I also expect a lot from the Indian team simply because it has got fast bowlers…options in fast bowlers… lot of options now, which was not the case before. It is good for Indian cricket. The team is balanced and the fast bowlers are good at international level. And I think we should be able to beat England in England.”

‘Huge fan of DK’

In addition, playing a wrist spinner in Tests would be advantageous for India as England’s batsmen aren’t too competent against leg-spinners, reasoned Vengsarkar.

Vengsarkar also reserved a few words for Dinesh Karthik. “DK is another good player, I am huge fan of DK.”

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