IND vs ENG 3rd Test: India’s an innings and 76-run defeat at Headingley in the 3rd Test against England will see plenty of changes in the Playing XI, if not for the defeat, to keep the squad fresh. Skipper Virat Kohli hinted that the fast-bowling unit will undergo physical evaluation and could be rotated in the 4th Test at Oval. That could also bring Ravichandran Ashwin back in the Playing XI apart from a fit-again Shardul Thakur.
With the BCCI top brass including president Sourav Ganguly, Secretary Jay Shah meeting Virat Kohli at Lord’s, there were talks about squad rotation considering the T20 World Cup is on the horizon. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj have played all three Test matches and could see them rotated. The other one who could sit out is Ishant Sharma. The veteran pacer hasn’t looked his best at Headingley.
“Rotation is bound to happen. It’s a very logical and sensible thing to do. You especially don’t want to push individuals to a place where they break. So, that conversation is very important and we will have that with individuals and see who is placed where physically and who needs to have a game off. You can’t expect with such turnaround time to play four Test matches in a row. So, we will assess who are the guys who need a number of days to recover and then we will be okay with the fifth one,” Virat Kohli said at the post-match press conference on Saturday.
IND vs ENG 3rd Test: As for the batting order, while one would have expected either of Hanuma Vihari or Suryakumar Yadav to come in, Cheteshwar Pujarfa with his 91-run knock has shut the door for the two at least for some time. Ajinkya Rahane has although struggled but he rescued the team at Lord’s. Furthermore, he is the vice-captain of the team and benching him without any injury could send a wrong signal. Hence, he is likely to continue to play.
As for Rishabh Pant, although the team has a backup keeper in Wriddhiman Saha, Virat Kohli and the team management are likely to stick with him despite his struggles in England. Rishabh has averaged 18 in the series but has done an excellent job behind the stumps so far. Virat Kohli backed Rishabh Pant despite his string of poor shows and said if any call has to be taken, it will be after the series is over and not now.
“With one loss we cannot assess that as a captain. Definitely, the management is not going to start analysing that because we are not failing as a team consistently. We failed this game as a team. Similar conversations were being initiated about Pujara but it seemed to have disappeared since yesterday,” Virat Kohli said.
“So, we want to give Rishabh all the space to play his game and understand the situation and take responsibility like everyone else. You cannot judge people all the time by numbers. There is still time in the series. We have two more Test matches. After that, we will look back and analyse what went wrong. At this moment it’s not the time,” he added.
One certain replacement in the Playing XI will be Ravichandran Ashwin. India dearly missed the off-spinner’s services at Headingley and with Oval providing an even flatter pitch where the ball could turn a fair bit, Ravichandran Ashwin is all set to return to the Playing XI. Even England is also mulling over the decision to bring back Jack Leach and rest a seamer. But Kohli said it will depend on the Oval pitch on the matchday morning.
“Playing another spinner (Ravichandran Ashwin) would depend on the pitch and we’ll take a call later. It depends on the moisture and how it will hold up for five days. The pressure from the fourth seamer is important sometimes and sometimes we have to make sure taking only three seamers means that the spinners have to come in quickly,” Virat Kohli said at the post-match presentation.
“I don’t believe in bringing in the extra batsman. I have never believed in that balance because either you can try and save a defeat or you can win the game. We have drawn games in the past with similar number of batters in the team. So, if you top 6-7 don’t do the job, there is no extra guarantee of the extra batter bailing you out every time. You have to accept that as a team and take responsibility. If you don’t have the ability to take 20 wickets going into a Test match, then you are already playing for only two results (loss or draw) and that’s not how we play,” Kohli said.