India are 2-0 down in the ongoing five-Test series against England. They know that they will have to win or at least draw the third Test beginning Saturday at Trent Bridge. And that’s what skipper Virat Kohli has told his teammates.
India had lost the first Test at Edgbaston by a narrow margin of 31 runs while chasing 194 for victory in the fourth innings. However, in the second Test at Lord’s, the number one side went down without showing any fight and suffered a humiliating loss by an inning and 159 runs to hand over England a 2-0 lead in the series.
Speaking on the eve of the Nottingham Test, Kohli when asked about what he has told his players after the first two Tests, said, “The only thing we have spoken about is to focus on what the team requires. When your back is against the wall, you can’t afford to think of anything else. If you look at it from another point of view it is actually a good situation to be in because you literally have no room for thinking about anything apart from what the team requires.”
“The only option we have is to win this game and nothing else and you need to show that in your body language, in your intent, the way you go about things. It is all about you feeling positive first. Those are the conversations we have had over the past few days. Now it is up to the individuals to stand up and say I’m gonna go out there and make a difference. I’m sure the guys have reflected on the last two games and there will be no other thoughts other than what the team requires,” he added.
India’s batting has been below par in the first two Tests, thereby undermining a decent performance put in by the bowlers. At Lord’s, India’s batting lasted just 82.2 overs both innings combined. In the four innings in two Tests so far, India put up disappointing totals: 274, 162, 107 and 130. Kohli scored a hundred in the first innings at Edgbaston and followed it with a half-century in the second innings. But apart from the Indian skipper, none of the other batsmen has been able to come out even with a decent performance.
When asked whether India could go in with an extra batsman, Kohli didn’t rule out the possibility but said it would depend on the conditions.
“It depends on the surface. If it has got enough assistance for the bowler then the extra batter might come into play. If it is going to be even, then picking 20 wickets is the priority. It’s about one discipline taking responsibility of their job. Both possibilities are there depending on the pitch,” he said.
“Here in England, you are not set even if you are batting on 100. As a batsman, you have to accept that a good ball can come at any point and you cannot walk into the middle feeling scared. You have to accept it and move forward,” the 29-year-old said.
“We are thinking that we have to make a team total. Whether that means 10 people make 30 runs or one person makes 200, it doesn’t matter. We have to forget what happened before this and decide that we will start contributing from this match. Thinking like that helps relieve a lot of pressure and also helps you respect the conditions and stay in the present,” he added.
The visitors have, however, received a boost with pacer Jasprit Bumrah being declared fit and available for selection for the third Test. The Indian skipper said that the team was very excited with Bumrah’s return.
“Very excited with Jasprit getting fit again. He is very consistent in hitting the areas that are required at the Test level. He’s shown that in South Africa already. He is one guy who is aggressive and makes the batsman feel uncomfortable out there in the middle. That has been his biggest strength and he relishes the challenge whenever given the opportunity. We are very excited that he is back. It is great to have someone like that in the park,” he said.
Meanwhile, England have named their playing XI for the Nottingham Test. All-rounder Ben Stokes has been included in the side in place of Sam Curran, the hero of the Edgbaston Test.
England Playing XI: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow (w), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
India Squad: Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik(w), Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Shikhar Dhawan, Karun Nair, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Rishabh Pant