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Captain Virat Kohli eyes 1 more pacer

For us it’s about figuring out who are the players that can make a transition into international cricket: Virat Kohli
Skipper Virat Kohli enjoys a light moment during practice in Hyderabad on Thursday

Our Bureau   |   Calcutta   |   Published 05.12.19, 09:36 PM

India’s fortunes in the game’s shortest format have been mixed. Virat Kohli’s men have failed to win two successive T20I series, managing only three victories out of the seven they have played since November 2018.

This has reflected in their T20I rankings. While India are No.1 in Tests and hold the second spot in ODIs, in T20Is, they are placed fifth in the charts.

West Indies, their opponents in the three-match T20I series beginning in Hyderabad on Friday, haven’t been too good either. The defending T20 World Cup champions are now placed tenth in the rankings.

Virat Kohli said they are never worried about rankings. “For us it’s about figuring out who are the players that can make a transition into international cricket and this is a good format to see them,” the India captain said at a media conference in Hyderabad on Thursday.

“Now heading into the World Cup rankings are going to be irrelevant because in T20 anyone can win on the day. We will probably be playing as close to the XI that we want in the World Cup for the remainder of the T20 games we have in hand,” Kohli said.

It’s the team combination and performance that get top priority for the Indian think-tank.

Kohli said there’s only one spot left to be filled in the team’s pace attack for next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, indicating that Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami are almost certain to make the cut.

“The fight obviously is for one spot and I think more or less three guys have made a place for themselves. It’s going to be a healthy competition and it will be interesting to see how it pans out,” Kohli said.

Referring to India’s problem of plenty in pace bowling, Kohli said, as a captain, he couldn’t have been happier.

“It’s not that big an issue for us. I think Bhuvi and Bumrah are experienced bowlers. They have been very consistent in T20 cricket. Deepak (Chahar) has come in and has bowled really well,” he said.

“Shami is coming back and he is bowling really well. If he gets into a rhythm and specifically works on what’s required in T20 cricket then he will be very, very useful in places like Australia, especially with his ability to pick wickets with the new ball. He has enough pace to execute yorkers,” he added.

The Indian pace attack looks menacing with the return of Bhuvi and Shami in the T20 set up. Shami last featured in a T20I in 2017, while Bhuvneshwar returns to the squad after recovering from a muscle problem.

Bhuvi’s last T20I was against the West Indies in the Caribbean in August.

The find of the Bangladesh series, Deepak Chahar, has also made a case for himself with his brilliant display, including a hat-trick, in the last series at home.

“Also couple of more guys are under the scanner for sealing that spot along with three seamers. It’s a good position to be in because everyone is bowling really well,” the India captain said.

Kohli was honest enough to admit India’s problems in T20 cricket.

“I don’t think we have been very good while batting first in T20 cricket and defending low totals as well. So those are two things we really need to focus on,” he said.

“Having said that T20 is a format where you experiment a lot more things than ODI and Test cricket. I think from that point of view you take a lot more risk in terms of what you want. 

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