Need to play good cricket consistently to remain No.1, says Virat Kohli
Indian Test captain Virat Kohli isn't reading too much into the newly acquired number one ranking in the longest format as they prepare to take on West Indies in the fourth and final Test starting here tomorrow.
Australia on Wednesday lost its number one Test team position to India after the former was whitewashed by Sri Lanka 3-0 but Kohli’s men need to win the match against WI to maintain their current spot.
If India fails to win the match, Pakistan will reach the top spot for the first time.
"It's a nice incentive but it doesn't really change anything for the team. Our goal has been to play good cricket and we've done that in the past year or so. And we want to continue with the same," Kohli said today.
"Even last year, when we beat South Africa, because of some other team losing, we became number one for a brief period. To really become the best team in the world you need to play consistent cricket for a span of 3-4 years. This is pretty immediate and short-term incentive.
"You have to play sustained cricket for a good period of time to be the best team in the world. We have played good cricket that's why we have climbed up the rankings, but if you see we have played lesser number of games than the other teams. It's only after we play a good number of games that we can be judged. We've played good cricket but I think only at the end of the season, we can look back how we have played and then figure out where do we stand," he said.
India will be looking to continue their dominance over the West Indies in this fourth Test. The biggest challenge facing the visitors will be the revised batting line-up, with Kohli again indicating that he will continue to bat at no.3.
"If we're playing five batsman and if we are looking to bat someone at five, then the batting order we played in the last game works. When we play six batsmen and four bowlers, in home conditions maybe, then the combination might be different. But we are open to both," he said.
"And personally, I don't have to prepare differently. For me, the mind set matters before I go in to bat. It can be any position but if you are mentally fit you will be able to execute."
There still could be a couple of changes, particularly since Murali Vijay is now fully fit and deserving of a call-up after suffering an unlucky thumb injury in the first Test. He is expected to partner KL Rahul, with Shikhar Dhawan sitting out.
There could be one bowling change as well, if India are tempted to test their bench strength. In a long season, where India play another 13 Tests, the workload for the likes of Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami needs to be managed.
One of them could be afforded a breather, with a rebounding chance given to Umesh Yadav, or even newbie Shardul Thakur could get a look-in, if Kohli is in experimental mode. Away from these permutations and combinations, India look set in their plans. Their energy will be focussed on attaining consistency, and as the skipper put it, in expressing themselves.
"If the wickets are drastically changing from one venue to the other, you will see a change here and there, especially with one bowler playing in front of the other. As far as the pool goes, we have a very good squad here. The stand-by players we have back home have the skill set as well. Everyone has been briefed about the roles they have to play. We have players who are ready accordingly," Kohli said.
"One or two spots obviously will be available. But we can't make too many changes in one series. And with a long season coming up, we are playing games at home too. So we want players to know that they are in the starting eleven so that they can prepare accordingly. We have done that pretty well in the last year and a half," said Kohli further.
There is a consistent threat of rain here for the duration of the Test. Thus the pitch conditions might not reflect the ones before the start of the match, as the skipper pointed out.
"I had a look at the pitch yesterday. There were a few damp spots. The covers came on very quickly today so I don't know how much that has dried up. We would name a few more than the eleven tonight before taking a call on what would be the best combination in the morning," he said.
"Apart from the damp spots, the surface looked pretty dry, and should have turn and bounce. That's the feeling I got. If we have rain on and off then the seamers will get much more assistance. Even in the side nets today, the seamers were getting a lot of assistance. We have enough players to make a change in the squad at the last minute," Kohli signed off.
(With PTI inputs)