Indian skipper Virat Kohli has backed his predecessor MS Dhoni to hit form in the upcoming games while adding that every player should know their role in the team heading into the 2019 World Cup. India takes on Sri Lanka in the second ODI of the five-match one day series in Pallekele today.
MS Dhoni’s future in the Indian side has been a hot topic of debate in the recent past, particularly given that the former Indian skipper has been far from his vintage self in the recently concluded Champions Trophy and the tour of the West Indies. The chairman of selectors added fuel to the fire when he recently claimed that the BCCI will look for other alternatives in due course if the Indian stumper’s poor form continues.
However, amidst all this, Virat Kohli has come out and backed his predecessor to come good in the upcoming games as he believes that handing each player a certain role is key as India heads into the 2019 World Cup.
"This coming season gives us an opportunity to define roles for players and give them time to execute it so that for the World Cup, we know exactly what one player needs to do in certain situations," Kohli told the media ahead of second ODI against Sri Lanka in Pallekele today.
"And it helps someone like MS also because he doesn't play Test cricket anymore. This long streak of matches will help him be in touch with the international games, find some momentum and stick to it," Kohli added.
India have already kick started their preparations for the 2019 World Cup and are all set to host Australia for a limited overs series next month before the Lankans visit India and the Indian skipper sees this as an opportunity to develop and maintain good habits heading into the World Cup."So it's an opportunity for everyone in the team including MS to create good habits and sustain them over a period of time."
India have completely outplayed the hosts in all departments on the tour so far as they handed the Lankan lions a humiliating 3-0 drubbing in the Test series and followed it up with a 9-wicket thrashing in the first ODI in Dambulla on Sunday. However, one of the talking points of the game on Sunday was the inclusion of Axar Patel ahead of chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, but Kohli justified the decision saying, "It was a case of having two left-arm spinners that led us not playing Kuldeep in the first game. Axar was favored more than Kuldeep from the point of view that he bats quite well and he is a gun (great) in the field also. Kuldeep has got opportunities in the past.
(Yuzvendra) Chahal and Axar are guys who haven't got many opportunities so we want to test them out. It's all about giving opportunities to people which we feel will not hamper our plans in any way and at the same time, it's about giving them exposure at international cricket," he noted.
But Yadav has certainly impressed with his abilities in his brief career so far as he managed to take wickets even on the flat track pitches of the Caribbean and therefore it comes as no surprise when Kohli insisted that Yadav was certainly part of the team’s plans in the games to come.
"Kuldeep remains in the thick of things all the time. To have a guy like that in the team is always a boost. You might see two wrist spinners playing together if we feel that we don't need that much depth in the batting in the coming games," the skipper said.
Finally, Hardik Pandya has proved himself to be the bowling all-rounder that India had been seeking ever since the days of Kapil Dev and Kohli reiterated the faith he has in the youngster’s abilities by giving him the new ball in the last match. Speaking of his decision to do so, Kohli stated, "Hardik has the ability to swing the ball and he can bowl consistently over 135 km/hr. With the new ball, he can get a bit of extra bounce because of his height. He has bowled with the new ball in India against England and against New Zealand in a few games as well. We certainly look at it as a great option for us.
Being the fifth bowler in the team, we can get four-five overs out of the way in the first 10, when the ball is swinging. Also, Jasprit Bumrah is our strike bowler and he comes in one-change. The teams obviously will be a bit more wary against him so that really gives us good balance in terms of whom to use when," he concluded.