With 2019 World Cup in mind, Kohli looks to try different combinations

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Manchester, July 2 (IANS) With less than a year to go for the 2019 ICC World Cup in England and Wales, India skipper Virat Kohli on Monday indicated at trying a few combinations in the playing XI as they gear up for the challenging series against England, starting with the first of the three Twenty20 Internationals here on Tuesday.

“With that major tournament coming, it gives you an opportunity to test your bench strength, try out fringe players and test their characters as well,” Kohli told reporters on the eve of the opening game.

“We are certainly going to try a lot of cricketers as well in the T20 matches, test their characters, test their skills and work out accordingly who will be the next lot to come in, especially to the limited overs format and from there on, they can build on it and play Test cricket as well,” he added.

Heaping praises on England’s current form, which saw the hosts outclass a hapless Australia 6-0 in a recent limited over series, the 29-year-old Kohli felt that English players’ participation in the various domestic T20 leagues like Indian Premier League (IPL) have contributed a lot in their growth.

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Kohli also felt that the participation of English players in the IPL has only increased the “warmth” among rival players.

“It (the IPL) is going to make relations between the two teams even better. I think because England haven’t played so much IPL cricket, there was never that familiarity or that sort of warmth between the two teams as much as we have with the other teams,” he said.

“Purely because we didn’t know the guys enough to be able to have conversations with them. I think this season has broken that barrier to a great extent.”

“I heard a lot of people are keen to go and play and they should. Why not, it’s a great league to play in. As Jos (Buttler) has been saying for months now, it has done great things to his mindset and he’s taking that on in every format,” Kohli added.

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Kohli said he wasn’t surprised with Buttler’s recent success for the national team.

“I am not surprised the way Jos has played. I mean we’ve all known about his ability in the past as well. It is just that he’s got more opportunity to play for Rajasthan Royals in this season to show his skill set, and he’s certainly enjoying that role at the top of the order,” he said.

“It was lovely to watch him play because when you gain momentum in this format, and you continue for that long, it always feels good to watch.”

“From that point of view, I really enjoyed watching him bat. Apart from that, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali were in our team (Royal Challengers Bangalore) as well. We had a great time together,” Kohli added.

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On the personal front, Kohli did not have a great time in England four years ago but he is unperturbed with the poor track record.

“Surprisingly or funnily, I don’t think from fans’ or outside point of view. Even when we came here for the Champions Trophy, that was the first question that was asked and my reply was, I am just looking forward to having a good time here. It doesn’t matter whether I get runs or don’t get runs,” he said.

“What I want is the team to play well and the team to win. Obviously you want to perform as an individual.”

“But I haven’t set any benchmarks or targets and come here to do certain things which have to be special just because the last tour here, I came on didn’t go well,” he added.

The three-match T20 rubber will follow three One-day Internationals. India will also play five Tests against the hosts during the tour.

–IANS

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