Virat Kohli: Hardik Pandya has a great chance of playing against Sri Lanka

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Virat Kohli: Hardik Pandya has a great chance of playing against Sri Lanka

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SportsCafe Desk

07/25/2017

Virat Kohli has stated that all-rounder Hardik Pandya has a good chance of making his Test debut in the Sri Lanka series that starts tomorrow. The Indian skipper further believes that the all-rounder, who has been brilliant in the limited over's format, will bring some balance to the squad.

India kick-off Ravi Shastri’s first stint as the head-coach tomorrow, when they take on Sri Lanka in the first of three Tests. During the course of this series, India will look to bring the focus back on the game after the infamous spat between Kohli and former Indian head-coach Anil Kumble, which led to the latter’s resignation from the post, owing to his “untenable” relationship with the Indian skipper.

One of the highlights of the Indian squad picked for the Sri Lankan series was the inclusion of all-rounder Hardik Pandya in the Test squad and speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Kohli hinted at Pandya Test debut during the series. “We got a guy like Hardik Pandya, who has a knack of picking wickets. He has a great chance of playing as well. That gives us the balance,” Kohli said.

“We got a guy like Hardik Pandya, who has a knack of picking wickets. He has a great chance of playing as well. That gives us the balance,” Kohli said.

"The extra batsman gave us more solidarity. We have taken learnings from that and we will surely apply that straight away into the series. It is very important to have your strike bowlers to be able to pick up wickets.”

Though India are the heavy favourites to win the series against Sri Lanka, Kohli and his men were dealt a setback when KL Rahul was ruled out of the first Test on Monday due to a fever. However, despite this scenario, the 28-year-old ruled out the possibility of Rohit Sharma opening the Indian innings. 

“Rohit has never opened in a Test cricket and we don’t see that kind of experiment happening here because we have specialist openers in the team and they will obviously be starting this game,” Kohli clarified.

Subsequently, Abhinav Mukund and Shikhar Dhawan are all set to open the innings for in the first Test. However, the Indian skipper also stated that this experiment will only be a makeshift one until Rahul returns from injury. 

“Rahul is unfortunately down with fever. Luckily, it is not anything serious. So he will get back in a few days. KL is a very established player for us, a very solid player. These kinds of scenarios present other players in the team with an opportunity to step up,” he said.

Sri Lanka brings back fond memories for Kohli as it was during a tour of the island nation in 2015 that Kohli captained the Indian Test side for the first time and led India to a series victory. That win was followed by Test series wins against England, New Zealand, Bangladesh, and Australia which culminated in India clinching the No. 1 spot in the Test rankings. Now, ahead of the upcoming tour, Kohli reminisced on how things have changed since the last tour.

“It is very different sitting here after two years from those series two years back. We are able to build on that culture, mindset in the last couple of years. I think we have built a very good base for us as a team. We don’t see any series as a launch pad but for playing consistently. We realise what needs to be done. We are humble in our preparation. Next phase of cricket for us is going to be challenging but we believe we have the kind of skills available to face the challenge,” Kohli added.

Finally, now that India are the no.1 Test team in the world, Kohli said that they will be looking to perfect certain areas of their game against the Lankan lions. “I don’t think there are any areas of concern for us. We have been looking to fine tune smaller areas during the course of the game. We have given responsibility to the players to identify those areas,” the Indian captain concluded. 

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