Mumbai, Dec 7 (IANS) India skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday confirmed that Lokesh Rahul will return to the playing XI to open the batting along with Murali Vijay when the hosts take on England in the fourth of the five-match cricket Test series, starting at the Wankhede Stadium here from Thursday.
Rahul missed the third Test at Mohali after sustaining a forearm injury and was replaced by seasoned wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel at the top of the order.
But with Rahul’s return to the side, Patel, who scored 42 and an unbeaten 67, will have to bat down the order, while newcomer Karun Nair may be included in place of injured Ajinkya Rahane.
“Yes. They are specialist openers, so there is no question of them not opening. They are not guys who have batted in different positions and they have opened for their states and country as well, they will be our specialist openers,” Kohli told reporters in the pre-match press conference here.
Kohli said Rahul has recovered well from his injury but the status of pacer Mohammed Shami, who had a sore knee problem will only be clear by Wednesday evening.
“Rahul is fine and Shami, we got to take a call in the evening in terms of how he is feeling his knee,” he said.
“After the Mohali Test, I think, he felt a bit of soreness in his knee. So we need to take a collective call on that because he has had a history of knee surgery.”
“We don’t want to push a player to an extent where we lose him for the whole season. So, we will take a call in the evening. As I said, as to how much rest he needs or if he can go tomorrow as well, there’s still a bit of time to decide,” he added.
Asked if Shami’s injury will hamper India’s chances in the match, Kohli said: “Currently, not really. Because, if you see, whoever has stepped in has given match winning performances.”
“You speak about Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar), he has come in at St. Lucia once and in Kolkata once, and both times he has picked up five wickets and he has been the match winner for us.”
“I am not worried because the guys sitting outside are waiting for opportunities. It is not like that they are not looking forward to playing, which is I think a great sign for the team and that is why, whoever has played at any stage has given those performances for us.”
“As I said they are pretty keen to step on to the field the grab the opportunity with both hands,” he added.
Kohli further said the team is not much bothered with opener Murali Vijay’s poor run of form in the previous two Tests.
“Ajinkya and Vijay are both solid payers. Vijay got a hundred in the first innings of the series (at Rajkot). It’s all about covering for another guy, who is probably not getting runs and that’s what team sport is all about,” Kohli said.
“We don’t believe in picking out individuals that this one is not playing well and this one is playing extraordinarily well. We compensate for someone who does not get runs and that is how we go ahead and pick up your teammates. That has been our aim,” he added.
The 28-year-old also complimented the lower-order batsmen for contributing to the Indian totals in this series.
“Lower-order contributions obviously help big time,” he said.