With depth of talent, injuries no worry for captain Kohli

Captain Kohli has made it clear the depth of talent around has ensured that the team will not push even marginally unfit players into playing a match in a gruelling season of Test cricket that’s barely warming up.

Virat Kohli Ajinkya Rahane Indore Test practice

Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane at a practice session in Indore on Friday.   -  Vivek Bendre

Virat Kohli’s predecessor used to be wary of fiddling around with the “winning combination”, especially while playing at home. But along with the coach Anil Kumble, the young India captain seems to have adopted the horses for courses policy in the recent past.

Perhaps that is why the growing list of unavailable players through injury or ailment hasn’t really affected India’s performance in the ongoing Test series against New Zealand. Ishant Sharma didn’t recover from chikungunya in time for the first Test and was replaced at the end of the season-opener; K.L. Rahul did his hamstring in early on. Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been sidelined for the third Test.

Captain Kohli, stressing on inability to prevent injuries in a “physical sport” like cricket, has made it clear the depth of talent around has ensured that the team will not push even marginally unfit players into playing a match in a gruelling season of Test cricket that’s barely warming up.

“The good thing is that we are able to recognise them (injuries) early, we are able to give them time to come back as soon as possible, with good rehab, good recovery and good rest,” Kohli told reporters on the eve of Indore’s maiden Test.

“Because it’s a long season, it’s important to address those things rather than pushing in someone at 70-80 percent, and losing him for the whole season. These things are part of everything... the good thing is that the others stepping in are positively taking it as an opportunity and that as a team is very important.”

The visiting contingent is no different. In fact, Kane Willamson’s face lit up more when he said he had the full squad available for selection for the first time in the series than saying he was “certainly very positive” of taking the field on Friday, having missed the last Test due to a viral fever.

Williamson’s presence will be the biggest boost New Zealand’s batting order will need in order to post a decent total on board in its first innings. He had no qualms in admitting that falling short on that count was one of the main reasons for both the defeats.

“It is one of those fine lines where there have been some good bits but the good bits haven't happened for long enough. Those 240-250 scores need to be 300-350. In saying that, we are yet to see this wicket, it might be more or it might be less, we don’t know just yet. In the last two games, if we could have pushed up our first innings total that little bit further, it would have helped us out a huge amount,” he said.