Virat Kohli has his eyes firmly fixed on the World Cup in England and the Indian captain wants to “address” the selection issue in a transparent manner selecting “a bunch of 20-25 players”, who will form the core group going into the marquee event in 2019. Kohli will be facing some happy selection dilemmas with senior bowlers Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami all available for selection for the upcoming limited overs segment in India. On the other hand, the junior spinners like Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have done more than decently in India’s 5-0 ‘Whitewash’ against Sri Lanka.
“The best thing is transparency. We will address it and tell them that this is a bunch of 20-25 people, who will make the probable-list for the World Cup and everyone has an equal opportunity to be tested at different stages,” Kohli said at the end of the ODI series against Sri Lanka. Kohli reminded that it will be a challenge for all spinners, who are in contention for Cup berth. “It’s going to be a challenge among all the bowlers and the spinners that are going to be in the part of the bigger group to make it to the 2019 World Cup. As I said, we don’t want to be predictable in any way and we want to have an X factor if possible with the bowling attack as well,” he added.
For the skipper, it’s heartening to find that his players are “embracing challenges rather than sulking at rejection”. “The best thing about this team is they are very sporting and they accept things quickly, and embrace the challenges. They take it as a challenge rather than getting disappointed and sulking, start working hard on that aspect of their game and make it happen for the team. So I am quite lucky that I have a bunch of players that do not oppose anything that the management and me as captain address to them. It makes my job a lot easier,” explained Kohli.
“We will find the core group for World Cup quickly only if the guys perform in the next couple of big series coming up because then the mindset becomes different of taking anyone anywhere in the world. So I think those series will be very important for us to find the right balance as a team,” Kohli said referring to the upcoming Australia and New Zealand series. Flexibility is the key to finding a place in the Indian ODI side were everyone needs to chip in every department. “We need to find an XI that is flexible enough to try different batsmen at different positions or play bowlers who can bat a bit, along with having the best fielding side on the park. We don’t want to be predictable till the lead up to the World Cup and in the World Cup.
“We want eleven guys who can bat at any stage, and chip in with overs at any stage. We want to remain unpredictable so there is no pattern to anything,” said Kohli. On the recently concluded series, Kohli was all praise for the spin troika. “The spinners were brilliant, all three of them. Axar Patel didn’t let the batsmen get on top of him. That’s a remarkable thing when you don’t have any variation in your bowling and you still don’t let guys score. I think it’s the height that really helps him getting that extra bounce and the extra pace he can generate. “Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal being wrist spinners will always keep you in the game. I certainly felt that all three of them were pretty spot on with attacking all the time.”
He once again termed Jasprit Bumrah, who got a world record 15 wickets in a bilateral series as the moist effective short format bowler. “Jasprit has been our most effective short-format bowler in the last 18 months. He has really worked on his bowling a lot, especially his length ball has picked up more pace. That’s very heartening to see because it never lets the batsmen get settled. It’s not only about yorkers and slower balls any more. “He can bowl a good length ball and nick you off as well, which I think is the biggest improvement in his bowling. Credit to him for shaping his game in that way. Getting a man of the series award in the subcontinent as a fast bowler, it’s always a great thing to achieve. He bowled in really good areas and he deserves to be the man of the series. I hope he can continue the same way against Australia,” Kohli was effusive in his praise.