Kohli wants team to make the most of Windies Tests

Virat Kohli feels the two matches against the West Indies gives India a chance to fix its weak links and improve as a Test side.

Virat Kohli gave the Asia Cup a miss after India's long tour of England.   -  Vivek Bendre

Back in the business after a small break by skipping the Asia Cup, "rejuvenated again" India captain Virat Kohli is gearing up for a long season keeping the "workload in mind".

“Definitely I am rejuvenated again. It was mental and physical both (fatigue), because of the intensity at which the two tours went – South Africa and England. People usually talk about workload, but they don’t understand its concept. They refer to workload as the number of games played. That’s not workload,” Kohli said on the eve of India’s first Test against the West Indies at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Tuesday.

The captain also makes it a point to explain what the "concept" is all about. “If I get zero in a game, that’s not workload. If I bat for six hours, that’s workload. Lot of things are taken in a different way. People don’t want to go to the details of it, what exactly the term means when the trainer or the physio takes a decision,” he said.

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Referring to the incident where Hardik Pandya suffered an injury in the Asia Cup inaugural fixture against Hong Kong, Kohli admits that for a player, having proper rest is important. “(When) someone like Hardik broke down, people cannot understand that. From the outside you cannot understand what the person is like with his body. I definitely needed a break because my back went (read, injured) once in South Africa and went again in England,” he said, adding that looking at the World Cup next year, these are two things to consider. “To give them ample rest and opportunity to train well and come back stronger,” Kohli said.

Fixing weak links

With the two-match Test series against the West Indies getting underway, it will be an opportunity for India to fix the weak links in the batting department. And Kohli admits that the team management is aware of the areas to improve on. “If you look at sides who win Test matches, contributions at the top and the contributions at the lower order are more important than what happens in the middle (order),” he said.

“The reason why England did well is because their lower order showed more resistance. I wouldn’t say their top order did better than us. Usually a lot of batsmen, especially at the top, struggle there because of the conditions. At home, we are not bothered, because the lower order has done well in the home conditions. But definitely, we would like to take this series as a benchmark we want to set, and we want to keep repeating these things. With couple of new guys coming in at the top of the order, they have the opportunity to show their skill sets,” the captain said.

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But then, how does the team approach to a two-match Test series?

“When it comes to Test matches, we don’t think whether two-Test series makes sense or not because you have to play well to win a Test match. We have played one-Test series also in the past, which is not heard off often. Yes, as a side, you want to see three or four Tests, as you get ample time to test out your skill set and get time to improve, but having said that we have to utilise the time we have and make most of these two Test matches. Like trying and solidify the areas that we need to going as a Test side,” the captain said.

Picking best playing XI

In the past, there have been enough criticism on India’s playing eleven, and Kohli makes it clear that the team always field the best eleven. “Obviously, we play the best XI on the field, there's no doubt about that. In the past, most of the changes we have made have been in the bowling department and people have very conveniently taken that otherwise. The team believes in it, the bowlers who have been sat out have never been made to feel hard done by or this has been unfair or something. The motive has always been to put the best XI on the park and we have hardly tinkered with the batting order apart from a couple of guys not being in form here and there,” he said.

“We have utilised the conditions to the maximum, we have picked up wickets because we have played people who are suited to the kind of conditions, or the pitches we have played on. Yes, the batting hasn't been up to the mark and that is why we haven't been able to win in England and South Africa. Definitely that factor of picking bowlers according to what they can bring on the field, on the pitch that we are playing has been definitely good for us, because we have taken ten wickets almost every innings in the last couple of years. Every team wants the best playing XI on the side and we understood that changing bowlers was a thing of playing on different pitches and not a case of wanting to do something different every game,” the captain added.

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While Kohli hopes to get things in order in this series, what are the plans on the opening combination for the Australia tour?

“We have a change at the top of the order and we will give these guys enough space and chances to feel comfortable at that position. We want them to be comfortable about what they are doing. And the lower order is all about contributions, there's no change needed there, Rishabh is obviously new. Ashwin and Jadeja have done it for so many games in India, it is just about replicating that when you go to play in other countries as well,” he said.

“Apart from the top order getting cemented, I don't think that with these two Test matches there is a lot that we are looking at, rest of the team looks quite settled, it's just that at the top of the order, these guys are new and will take a bit of time to get into it. They definitely have the skill set and supremely talented and what we have seen of them is very, very exciting,” the captain said, perhaps hoping the "very exciting" talents make an impact.

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