Virat Kohli has encouraged Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund, potential replacements for Murali Vijay in the opening slot, to treat it as an opportunity rather than pressure. The regular Test opener for India is set to miss the three-match Test series against Sri Lanka with a wrist injury.
The injury to Vijay is definitely a big blow for the Indian team. The 33-year-old right-handed batsman has been a revelation for the side in Tests, since making his debut back in 2008 against Australia. He has gone on to make nine centuries and 15 half-centuries since then.
Stating his injury as “unfortunate”, the Indian skipper went on to praise Vijay for his honesty concerning his injury. The Tamil Nadu batsman had incurred the injury during the Test series against Australia and has since been struggling with it. And with the lesser number of Test games played now it is bound to be exasperating for players
“Every player comes to the team wanting to perform. Injuries are an unfortunate part of the sport. Vijay was back from rehab and played a game and told selectors he was not match-fit. That is the kind of culture being created. People are honest,” expressed Kohli.
Though Dhawan remains the first priority to replace Vijay, as stated by the All-India Senior Selection Committee, Mukund would hope he gets to prove his mettle too. The 27-year-old has been brilliant in the domestic tier, although his last Test game against Australia was one to forget.
Apart from them, India would still have more possibilities in the opening slot and Kohli seemed to keep his options open. Cheteshwar Pujara earlier opened for the side in the last Test, which took place in Dharamsala, and the team could go for a spinner if and when needed, stated the captain.
Kohli is looking at the series as the coming of a full circle that started two years back in 2015 that comprised India’s voyage to the no. 1 spot in ICC's Test rankings table. Losing the first test in Galle then, India had shown a real comeback collectively and Kohli harped on that spirit.
“We still remember for us as a squad after the tour of Australia in 2014-15 that we found ourselves being No. 7 in the world. From then on, the transformation started and I think this particular series in Sri Lanka was the series that gave us belief after being 1-0 down,” said Kohli.
He continued, “The victories were hard fought. What it taught us was to come together and come closer as a team and understand our strengths and weaknesses and be defining the roles that we play in Test cricket and take the team higher in the rankings.”