Ahead of the two-match Test series against Bangladesh starting from Wednesday, India’s stand-in Test captain K.L Rahul feels that talismanic batter Virat Kohli is someone who has always found ways to get runs and do the job of getting the runs for his team in red-ball cricket too.
Since September, Kohli has been in blazing form in white-ball matches, notching up a T20I century against Afghanistan in Asia Cup and then playing some vintage knocks during the Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
On Saturday, he got his 44th ODI century against Bangladesh and with India now all set to play in Tests after nearly six months, all eyes will be on Kohli to carry his good form in white-ball matches to red-ball cricket.
“We haven’t really played too much Test cricket for you to pass that statement. But he’s been in good form; he’s done really well for us in T20 cricket. Recently, he got that (ODI) hundred against Bangladesh here. Obviously, he will take some confidence into the Test matches as well. He’s been around for so long.”
“He is such an experienced player; he knows what to do. His mindset and attitude have always remained the same. The passion he has for the game, the commitment he gives for his team, has been on show for everyone to see, so’you can’t really question ‘hat. He’s a great player. He has always found ways to get runs, do the job for his team and I am sure he will do that again,” said Rahul in a pre-series press conference.
India will be without regular skipper Rohit Sharma for the first Test from December 14-18 at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium and Rahul hopes he is fit in time for the second Test at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium from December 22-26.
“Rohit Sharma is an important player for us. He is a very experienced player and captain of our team. With the captain being injured, he is someone that the team will really miss but fingers crossed, we hope he can recover quickly and come back for the second Test.”
There was a little bit of surprise when Cheteshwar Pujara was named as vice-captain for Tests against Bangladesh as the now-sacked selection committee had said Rishabh Pant and Rahul were being groomed as future leaders of the Indian team. Asked about the same, Rahul didn’t go much into the specifics of the vice-captaincy change.
“Regarding vice-captain, at least I don’t know like what is the criteria. Whoever is picked, you give yourself a pat on the back and you continue. I know that when you are the vice-captain, you become really happy. But it really doesn’t change too many things, everybody in the team knows their roles and responsibilities and how much the team appreciates their contribution.”
“Rishabh and Pujara both have been brilliant for us in Test cricket and have done the job so many times. So we really don’t think much as everyone tries to take their responsibilities and we carry on as a team. The team wins as eleven players and when we go down, we go down as a whole team. Everyone has responsibility and we try to help each other and enjoy our cricket.”
With no Rohit, Rahul and Shubman Gill are going to be the likely opening pair for India in Chattogram. Rahul was in praise for the skillsets and attitude shown by Gill in his initial days and stressed on how important it is to back youngsters who are capable of doing well for the Indian team.
“Shubman has been a brilliant player and it is wonderful to see his transformation (in ODIs). In Tests, whenever he has got the opportunity, he has done the job for the team. He’s very young and exciting and has the temperament for the longest format. In every format, he is exciting and I am sure he will be excited about this opportunity to do the job for the team.
“What we can do is back young, exciting and talented players. It is important as a leader to back your players, and let them make their own decisions. At the same time, it is also important that we enjoy our cricket and not really think too much. It is about what we require to do as a team and as individuals to win the game for the country. Excited to see how will he go now.”