England vs India | A player of Pujara’s calibre should be left alone: Virat Kohli

Well left! Pujara is not worried about what is being said about him, says Kohli   | Photo Credit: AFP

Despite extending the suspense over Rohit Sharma’s opening partner to the morning of the series-opener, captain Virat Kohli stressed that, after spending two months in England, India is ready to roar in the five-Test series, which starts on Wednesday.

Better prepared

“We are definitely much better prepared than in the past. The [COVID] situation has allowed us to get acclimatised and get used to the weather first, because it can change drastically quite quickly here,” Kohli said from Nottingham on Tuesday.

“At the same time, playing under different changes in conditions — in terms of the weather, whether it is overcast or sunny, how the pitch behaves, how the ball travels, how much it swings in the air — all those things are going to add to our experience, which the team already possesses a lot of, having played in England before.”

In addition to the challenge of filling the opener’s slot, India also enters the series with a potential void created by the absence of a pace-bowling all-rounder.

With Hardik Pandya sidelined from Test cricket due to a chronic back injury — he had an excellent outing in 2018 — the only option India has is Shardul Thakur.

“He is already a multi-dimensional cricketer and it is all about gaining more and more confidence with performances like Brisbane. Someone like him always brings a lot of balance,” Kohli said.

Shardul a huge prospect

“Shardul is a huge prospect for us and one who is going to be very important for us not just in this series but going forward.”

Ever since the conclusion of the WTC final, there have been suggestions in some quarters that Cheteshwar Pujara no longer enjoys the team management’s confidence. Kohli, however, dismissed the idea that there were doubts over Pujara’s ability.

“A player of his calibre should be left alone and the responsibility is with the individual to figure out what are the drawbacks in his game that he needs to work on,” Kohli said. “I can from the outside say that the criticism is unnecessary, but I know for a fact that Pujara does not care. Criticism is only as relevant as you want it to be.”

Despite the absence of Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes, veteran pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad will pose severe challenges for India’s batsmen.

Kohli dead-batted a specific query about his plans to tackle Anderson with: “I’ll just bat.”

India will be hoping he does just that for the next six weeks.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2021 8:25:36 AM |

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