Virat Kohli: Had no information why Rohit Sharma wasn't travelling with us

India captain Virat Kohli said that Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma's chances in the Test series would have increased had they travelled to Australia, like Wriddhiman Saha.

Virat Kohli at a training session in Rajkot during the home series against Australia earlier this year.   -  FILE PHOTO/ VIJAY SONEJI

Virat Kohli is disappointed with the lack of clarity regarding the Rohit Sharma injury-management issue. Ahead of the first ODI against Australia in Sydney, the Indian captain said the handling of the matter was “confusing”, and that both Rohit and Ishant Sharma could have recovered in Australia with Wriddhiman Saha. 

In a virtual press conference on Thursday, Kohli questioned the logic behind Rohit and Ishant's stay in India as travelling would have increased their chances to recover in time for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Excerpts...

On Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma's rehab in India, Saha's recovery in Australia…

It would have definitely increased their chances of playing the Test matches [had they travelled]. Saha had an injury during the IPL and has been doing his rehab with the team. We are aware of his progress and he is on the right path to make sure he is fit and available in time to play the Test series; same would have been the case with Rohit and Ishant. It would have given them a chance to get themselves fit and be available before the start of the Test series. There is so much uncertainty on whether they are going to make it, or if at all they are going to make it. It would have been helpful in them getting fit if they were here and doing the rehab, just like how Saha is.

On the Rohit Sharma limited-overs exclusion issue… 

Before we had the selection meeting in Dubai, we got a mail two days before that said he [Rohit] is unavailable for selection and that he picked up an injury during the IPL. It mentioned there was a two-week rest and rehab period, the pros and cons, the implications of the injury was explained and he understood that. That was the information we got, and after that he played in the IPL, so we thought that he was going to be on that flight to Australia which he wasn't. We had no information whatsoever on the reason why he is not travelling with us. The only other information we have received officially that he is at the NCA and he will be further assessed on December 11. From that selection meeting to IPL finishing till the last email, there has been no information, lack of clarity and we have been playing the waiting game on this issue for a while, which is not ideal at all. It has been confusing.

READ| Steve Smith: 'Rohit’s absence will be tremendous void in white ball, ditto for Virat in Tests'

On paternity leave after the first Test...

The decision was made before we had the selection meeting. I had told the selectors that I would fly back after the first Test as we have a quarantine period both ways. I wanted to be back home in time to be with my wife [Anushka Sharma] for the birth of our first child. It is a special and a beautiful moment in my life.

On playing in front of large crowds and Indian fans…

It is a great opportunity. Everyone is excited to start playing in front of the crowd. We came back to action after a difficult period. Things are getting better as we speak. The situation in Australia is at a place where we are able to play in front of crowds, which is a big boost. Playing in front of the crowd is something that cannot be replicated otherwise. We are excited to get back into a stadium full of noise and fans.

Rohit Sharma receives the IPL 2020 Trophy from BCCI president Sourav Ganguly.   -  IPL

 

On the most enjoyable aspect of playing cricket in Australia...

It comes with its own challenges. It can be an intimidating place if you are not ready to take on a challenge mentally and with your skill as well. It is a place I have loved coming to over the years. They play hard cricket. The crowd can be tough on the players who are travelling. Australia exercises and executes the home advantage really well. And if you perform well in Australia, you get a lot of respect from the public and the fans watching. It is like a test, you go through a hard test and there is appreciation and acknowledgement at the end of it. People here are nice and welcoming. The weather is great and the stadiums are amazing.

READ| Cricket Australia seeks government approval to relax quarantine for Rohit, Ishant

On the evolution of brand Kohli by playing in Australia…

I have come here through different stages of career in my life. In 2012, I think it was my opportunity and a start to my international career as a Test player. Something I fondly remember even now. I was a youngster with a lot of hope. The second time I came around was a difficult situation as I was coming from the 2014 tour of England. And Australia was a daunting tour, full of quality players. That tour revealed a lot about myself, the person and my game. The full tour in 2018 was memorable for all of us. Now it is about fulfilling my responsibility on the field. This is just a continuation of the same mindset. As a captain and a leader, I want to keep setting the right example and that's always my goal. It's been a full roller-coaster of a journey coming to Australia. 

On youngsters such as Shubman Gill...

We are looking at giving opportunities to the younger players. There are guys who are waiting to get on the park. It is a great opportunity for them to realise something new about their own games, and how they can take the game to the next level. It is a very important series for them to grow as individuals.

On Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami's workload in the current series...

Of course, it is a no-brainer. They have gone through a full IPL season and bowled beautifully. They are bowling in great rhythm. It will be important to monitor the workload and that's when the young guys come in. You want to see how people react in different situations. There is a fine balance you need to maintain and it is something we have been able to do since the past many years. Our bowlers have been fit and available for important matches. As a captain, it is crucial to know how the bowlers stand in terms of workload and how their bodies are feeling.

READ | Cricket Australia seeks government approval to relax quarantine for Rohit, Ishant

On rival captain Aaron Finch's weakness...

Players go through different phases in different times. Finchy is a quality player, hence he was included in the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad in the IPL. There is no drastic revelation that happens when you play with someone for two months. You have seen them play earlier, too, day in and out. Adam Zampa has seen me bat at the nets but that doesn't mean they have an extra advantage. I don't think it does anything different in figuring out strengths and weaknesses.

On starting well with the white-ball series for momentum…

I don't think there is any extra desperation or need to think on those lines. The last time we were successful here was for a reason. We are focusing on a process and we are strong in our mind to be at our best in difficult situations and that doesn't change. We expect Australia to come hard at us, we are ready for that. We are not attaching any incentive or reason to motivate ourselves as it is an opportunity to set the tone before the Test series. The importance of starting well is purely because you are in foreign conditions and you want to get confident as a team really quickly. 

On the percentage point system in the World Test Championship...

It is definitely surprising because we were told that points were the matter of contention for the top two teams qualifying in the World Test Championship and now suddenly, it has become percentage. It is confusing and difficult to understand why, and if these things were explained to us from day one, it would have been easier for us to understand the reasons. It has happened out of nowhere. Further questions about this should be asked to the ICC and understand why this has been done and what are the reasons behind it.

On not playing a practice match in New Zealand but warming up well in Australia...

When you have time, it is an advantage. You have practice games and you are preparing more. It is important to get used to the conditions and the pitches. You should feel you are part of the tour and you have been playing cricket in these conditions. The practice will help us gain our best mindset and physical fitness.

Kohli in numbers ahead of the ODI series

He is 133 runs away from completing 12,000 ODI runs. He will be the first cricketer to achieve this landmark in less than 300 innings. He is six hundreds away from equalling Sachin Tendulkar's record of 49 ODI tons.

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