Virat Kohli often speaks about doing whatever it takes to win. He says that’s how he is able to bat on even when he is running on empty and the same philosophy had led to him fielding 38 different Test XIs at the start of his Test captaincy. It appears the clock has been reset again with India going into their first match of the World Championship without premier offspinner R Ashwin, triggering the attention of, among others, former India captain Sourav Ganguly.
“I would say that this is one area where Virat needs to just be a bit more consistent,” Ganguly said at an event in Mumbai on Friday. “Pick players and give them a bit more consistent opportunities – for them to get that confidence, rhythm, I have said that before. You saw how Shreyas Iyer played in that ODI series [136 runs at 68 against West Indies] – you pick him and you give him the freedom to play those matches and I think that needs to happen with a lot of players and I am sure Virat will do that.”
ALSO READ – Ashwin left out of Antigua XI in ‘astonishing’ selection call
Kohli’s mixing and matching of personnel coincided with several injuries to key players but there were also instances where first-choice picks like Ajinkya Rahane (Cape Town 2017) and Cheteshwar Pujara (St Lucia 2016) were placed aside for more aggressive options. And, in the ongoing Test against West Indies, the spinner that the team trusted – Ravindra Jadeja – scored a backs-to-the-wall half-century that looks set to provide India with a sizeable lead. Still he had to beat a couple of in-form players to get into the XI.
“I was also surprised to see Kuldeep Yadav left out,” Ganguly said. “The last Test he played against Australia, he got five wickets, if you remember in Sydney on a good flat pitch, he picked up five wickets against Australia. But Jadeja also has been in good form, the surface yesterday at Antigua needed three fast bowlers because we saw the seam movement the fast bowlers got and it was a question of the spin.
“Ashwin’s record is phenomenal to leave him out in the West Indies, so it’s a decision which Kohli has made and we will find out in the next couple of days how far Jadeja goes on to pick wickets on this surface. Because this pitch will get up and down, as the game progresses, you can see that sort of indication from the first day of the Test, we will have to wait to see but that’s the competition of Indian cricket.”
Ganguly also believes that the team – and especially head coach Ravi Shastri, who has just been reappointed for a two-year term – have been together for long enough to start winning world titles.
“Ravi has been around for a while – five years he’s completed so he’s got an extension for two more years – hopefully now India can now go all the way in the two upcoming tournaments that are coming up, which is the T20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy which has now become a T20 format,” Ganguly said. “So I hope they do well, they’re doing well, they get to the semi-finals. In 2015 in Australia they struggled, in 2017 in Mumbai West Indies got the better of them and even in this World Cup (2019) so hopefully they will get to the next step and create a winning combination.”