As World T20 looms, India to focus on fielding best side: Kohli - GulfToday

As World T20 looms, India to focus on fielding best side: Kohli


India’s captain Virat Kohli bats during a training session on Thursday, ahead of their first T20 match against the West Indies in Hyderabad on Friday. Associated Press

India will experiment less and look to play their best Twenty20 side with just over 10 months left before the T20 World Cup, captain Virat Kohli said at Hyderabad on the eve of a three-match series against West Indies on Thursday.

Kohli’s men are the top-ranked side in test cricket and number two in the 50-over format behind England but the inaugural T20 World Cup champions are ranked fifth in the world in the shortest format of the game.

“T20 is a format where you experiment a lot more things than ODI and test cricket. I think from that point of view you take a lot more risk in terms of what you want,” Kohli told reporters.

“As a team you want to give chances to youngsters. So you can’t really pinpoint where we stand. Ranking is actually the reflection of the strongest eleven but we haven’t really played the strongest eleven together for many games.”

India will see the return of experienced seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami to the T20 scheme of things while frontline left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav also makes a comeback.

Kohli had said during the Test series against Bangladesh that this team has one of the best bowling attacks in the world and going into the West Indies T20I series, the captain once again reiterated the same and said that there was just one spot that was up for grabs with an eye on the World T20 in 2020.

“The fight obviously is for one spot and I think more or less three guys have made a place for themselves. It’s going to be a healthy competition and it will be interesting to see how it pans out,” Kohli said.

Bhuvneshwar’s return has further strengthened the look of the attack and to think that Jasprit Bumrah is yet to be a 100 per cent after suffering a stress fracture. But skipper Kohli doesn’t mind the problem of plenty.

“It’s not that big an issue for us. I think Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar) and (Jasprit) Bumrah are experienced bowlers. They have been very consistent in T20 cricket. Deepak (Chahar) has come in and has bowled really well,” he pointed.

Commenting on the recent form of Mohammed Shami, Kohli said: “(Mohammed) Shami is coming back and he is bowling really well. If he gets into a rhythm and specifically works on what’s required in T20 cricket then he will be very, very useful in places like Australia, especially with his ability to pick wickets with the new ball. He has enough pace to execute yorkers.”

But Kohli pointed that a couple of other guys are also in the radar and it will all be about rising to the challenge and performing.

“Also couple of more guys are under the scanner for sealing that spot along with three seamers. It’s a good position to be in because everyone is bowling really well,” he explained.

“For us it’s about figuring out who are the players that can make a transition into international cricket and this a good format to see them,” Kohli said.

“But now heading into the World Cup rankings are going to be irrelevant because T20 anyone can win on the day. I think our combination is getting stronger and stronger.

“We will probably be playing as close to the eleven that we want in the World Cup as possible for the remainder of the T20 games we have leading into the World Cup.” Kohli, India’s batting mainstay, also threw his weight behind under-pressure stumper batsman Rishabh Pant.

Opening batsman Rohit Sharma, who led India in the absence of Kohli against Bangladesh, implored critics of Pant to leave the 22-year-old alone and let him play with freedom.


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