“We will decide team combinations based on weather conditions”, says Virat Kohli

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“We will decide team combinations based on weather conditions”, says Virat Kohli

IND vs NZ 2nd Test: Mumbai which is surrounded by the Arabian sea is expected to be hit by heavy rains during the second test between India & New Zealand due to the formation of a low-pressure zone over the east-central Arabian sea.

With chances of rain hitting the venue during the IND vs NZ 2nd test, the teams are unclear about their game plans for the second test which will be played at the Wankhede Stadium from Friday. However Indian test team captain Virat Kohli isn’t stressing much about how the team will be composed for the final test. Though Virat’s return to the team means one batter needs to stay out of the test squad. However, according to Virat Kohli how the weather conditions will evolve — and will be expected to evolve – will play a role in the composition of the team.

“We have to keep the weather and changing conditions into account while discussing combinations,” Kohli said on Thursday (December 2). “We will decide the team combination based on that. At the end of the day, you can’t assume that the weather will stay the same for all five days. Even if it changes, our decision will be based on what can possibly change.”

India had played with two pacers & three spinners in the IND vs NZ 1st Test which ended in a thrilling draw in green park Stadium at Kanpur. However, with more pace expected in Wankhede’s ground Kohli expects greater benefits & rewards for pacers. Thus the team management could reconsider the team combination according to the weather conditions.

The Indian captain reckons, in Mumbai, there will be ample reward for everyone who is playing ‘disciplined’ cricket. “It looks like a typical Wankhede wicket, we expect it to have nice bounce, there’s value for all kinds of bowlers on the Wankhede,” he said. “When you bat you can get runs as well. So I think it’s a great wicket for good cricket and all skill sets are in the play all the time. Which is a great position to be in because then you know that you can utilize your resources very well, and the team that does it better has more chances of winning the Test match.

“You go in with the knowledge that you can use your bowlers – whether it’s the fast bowlers, spinners, whoever it is – and the batsmen can find value in playing good shots, in being solid at the crease and still believe that you can score runs. Even if the situation is difficult you can very well play a good knock from there on because the pitch allows you to.

“So I think this is a pitch which demands a lot of discipline, but at the same time, the rewards of the discipline are also much higher in percentage compared to some of the other venues where spin might be dominant and the fast bowlers don’t come into play. But on the Wankhede, I don’t think that’s ever been the case and I know for a fact that all the bowlers, especially in red-ball cricket, really enjoy playing at the Wankhede and bowling on this pitch, and the batsmen love it (as well).”

There will be a selection dilemma for the selectors as they face the tough task of finding a place for the in-form Shreyas Iyer who scored a blistering century & a fifty in Kanpur test in the middle order where the experienced duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane couldn’t perform well. There is also a fight for the wicket-keeper slot as in teh absence of Wriddhiman Saha, KS Bharat substituted brilliantly behind the wickets. Wriddiman Saha was absent from the first test due to a stiff neck issue.

Further Virat Kohli has confirmed that Saha has regained fitness & is available for selection for the secodn test but despite his gutsy knock in the second innings of the first test, there is enough to consider for the team management.

“You have to obviously understand the situation of where the team is placed, you have to understand where individuals stand at certain stages during the course of a long season. So you have to obviously communicate well, you have to speak to the individuals and approach them in a way where you explain things to them properly,” Kohli said about the challenges of managing players when they aren’t selected in the XI.

“Mostly it’s been combination-based whenever we’ve done changes in the past and we’ve explained to the individuals and they’ve understood the mindset behind going in with a certain combination. It’s not a difficult thing to do when there is collective trust and belief in the group that we’re working towards the same vision”.

“Along the line, there are ups and downs, and we understand that as cricketers or as sportspeople in general. It’s never a thing that you can say I’m absolutely okay or happy about being told that the combination doesn’t allow me to play. But that’s the dynamic of team sport and at the end of the day, we always prioritize the team first and make sure that we take care of individuals along the way.

“That’s something that we’ve done consistently – as a Test team we’ve backed a set of players who have done the job for the Indian cricket team in the last 5-6 years, and we maintain and continue to maintain that they are an integral part of the larger scheme of things, of the core group of the Indian Test team, and they’ve always been players that we’ve relied upon on many occasions, they’ve done the job.

“It’s upon realizing and being aware of what’s happening, and you find the right space and the right way to approach people. Obviously, along with the management and coaching staff, discussions happen in a very rounded manner and decisions are taken after a collective set of ideas that come to the table and we all discuss any of the issues that we have to address”, Virat Kohli added.

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