Pune, Oct 9 | India captain Virat Kohli feels it’s time to let Rohit Sharma enjoy his batting at the top of the order and if he does that, India will be in winning situations more often than not in Test cricket.
“If a guy like him at the top of the order plays the way he does, we are going to be in situations to go for victory in most of the Test matches. So we are all very happy for him. It’s time to let Rohit Sharma enjoy his batting in red-ball cricket,” Kohli said on the eve of the second Test against South Africa at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium on Wednesday.
Rohit marked his foray in Test match opening with twin hundreds in the first Test against the Proteas, shattering many records as India registered a comprehensive 203-run victory in Visakhapatnam.
Since being promoted to the opening slot in limited overs cricket in 2013, the 32-year-old has established himself as one of the best players in the format but has never quite managed to replicate that success in Tests as a middle-order and lower middle-order batsman.
However, in his debut Test as opener in Visakhapatnam, he went on to score 176 in the first innings and followed it up with 127 in the second innings to play a crucial role in India’s win.
Following his stellar opening debut, he also jumped a whopping 36 places to achieve his career-best ranking of 17 in the ICC Rankings.
India are sitting pretty on top of the ICC World Test Championship with 160 points and have further chances to bolster their position.
Kohli also weighed in on the Championship points system and said that away victories were more hard to come by and, hence, should be given more recognition.
“If you’d have asked me to make the points table, I’d have asked for double the points for an away Test win,” he said.
Kohli also spoke on why chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav has not been picked in the playing XI despite scalping five wickets in the last Test that he played (against Australia at Sydney).
“No one is self-centered and everyone is thinking about what he can do for the team. It’s the same about Kuldeep. He understands that in India, (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja will be our first choices because they give us so much more with the bat as well.
“A lot has been spoken and said about the system that we have followed over the last two years. The only thing that matters to us is wanting to win as many games as we can and have been able to do that,” said Kohli.
“We have the least losing percentage in the last three years and there is a good reason for that. We obviously are flexible but as I said it can’t be possible if the team doesn’t buy into it. The guys have bought into it,” said Kohli, who has lost only one Test (vs Australia at Pune in 2017) at home as the Indian captain.
Heaping praise on Mohammed Shami who took five wickets in the second innings of the first Test, Kohli said: “I think on the pitches we play, I don’t see anyone with so much seam movement apart from him (Shami).
“He is someone who can totally change the complexion of the match when you don’t see it coming. His skill is obviously there for everyone to see. Especially, in the second innings, when the situations are difficult, he comes in and does the job everytime. It’s great,” said Kohli.
Asked if the pitch and overhead conditions will see the team management tinker with combinations, Kohli said: “More or less, our team is settled and I don’t think the pitch will play that big a factor because when the pitch is damp, it turns as well. It’s not that only seamers are predominantly effective, spinners will also be effective on all five days,” said the Indian skipper, effectively dismissing suggestions of playing a third seamer.
“Unless you have a pitch that has total grass coverage, only then you think of combination too much. Because you do know that it will dry out at some stage and you can’t go with one-sided (one dimensional) attack and not have balance,” the skipper said.