India captain Virat Kohli wants specific roles for certain players keeping a two-year time frame leading upto the 2019 World Cup, in mind.
“For us, it is about the time frame. It is not about which opposition we are playing. You can’t pick and choose. I have never believed in that and we as a team don’t believe in that,” Kohli said when asked about whether he will use players depending on the opposition.
“Two years to go for the World Cup and now is the time to give players certain roles to get into the groove and understand what we need to do,” said Kohli.
The skipper confirmed that KL Rahul is a certainty in that middle-order while Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey will be fighting for the remaining middle-order slot.
Rahul will be batting at No 4, chairman of selectors MSK Prasad had said but skipper doesn’t want any set pattern.
“KL will definitely be playing in the middle-order. We are not going to be predictable or have a set pattern anymore in terms of what we are going to do in ODI or T20 cricket.
Anyone could go anywhere. That’s what we are looking to do,” said the skipper.
He indicated that Pandey may have to wait.
“Someone like Manish, he has done well and has grabbed his opportunities. He has got a hundred in Australia as well, and we know about his talent and what he brings onto the field as well. He is a superfit guy and has a bright future ahead of him. So he will certainly be backed.
“All three guys (including Kedar Jadhav) will have to compete for two spots in the middle-order. There are no guarantees I would say. As long as there is healthy competition, everyone will keep pushing each other and that is healthy for Indian cricket,” the skipper opined.
Despite his series winning knocks in the West Indies, Ajinkya Rahane will have to wait in the wings as a third opener with Shikhar Dhawan having hit a purple patch.
“Shikhar Dhawan is an impact player. Shikhar and Rohit, we know what they have done (achieved) in the past together. We understand their potential also Jinks (Rahane’s nickname) understands that at this stage, he is the third opener in the team,” said Kohli.
Kohli conceded that Rahane has been shuffled in the batting order, which has been a tad unfair.
“We certainly back him (Rahane) because he has been shifted around a bit in the batting order, which is not healthy for a guy, who likes to open in the shorter format.
See, he grabbed his opportunities in the West Indies and he was man-of-the-series and he continues to be in the set up.
“I think he (Rahane) is much more relaxed after that West Indies series. Yes he felt the pressure before but he has overcome that now. He is enjoying his cricket,” he added.
With a whole lot of ODI matches lined up in coming months, Kohli stressed on the experiment part not only getting bogged down by the expectation of an India victory everytime that they step onto the field.
“For us, it’s all about when you want to start giving roles to players and experimenting as a team. Sometimes we get so carried away by team India’s expectations that you have to win every game and that we don’t follow a pattern. So it’s very important to understand that as a group,” the skipper said.
For him, accepting challenges and critical comments along the way is a part of that process.
“Criticism will come along the way, but we should be ready to embrace challenges and be ready to take risks and to lose a few games when you need to try out something. We are very comfortable with trying things in very different ways.
“But we need to start making the effort because 8-10 months down the line, we will be solid in our roles and what we need to do as a team,” he added.
“We definitely believe in our core group – that is the only way you can reach finals of a big tournament and be consistent as an ODI side. But if you want to be world-beaters and win everywhere in the world, you need to do certain things that are out of the box as well. So we’re all ready to embrace that,” skipper explained.
With regards to the bowling combination for this first ODI, picking three spinners is not an option for the skipper one day ahead of the game.
“I don’t see having three spinners on this track. I have played here in the past. It is probably a three-fast bowler kind of a pitch, where Hardik Pandya is good enough to give us 7-8 overs. So I see only two guys (spinners) taking the field.”
However who those two guys would be depends.
“Now who are those two going to be really depends on what we feel like going in with as a team but having wrist spinners (chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal) in the team is always an advantage.
“If you look at teams across the world, they have at least one wrist spinner, if not two in their side, giving breakthroughs in the middle overs, which is very important. So all three are very skilled (including Axar Patel) but only two can take the field which we haven’t decided as of now. But we should be clear by tomorrow morning,” Kohli said.