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Will play only if fully fit: Virat

India captain says he will take the field only after getting through fitness tests

India captain Virat Kohli was the first to walk into the ground amidst the scenic Himalayas in the background. It was serene, quiet and calm much like the captain’s body language on the morning of the eve of the final Test. Gloves on, with his bat, Virat walked to a corner of the ground and took a few throwdowns from batting coach Sanjay Bangar. A few hits to get a sense of how his shoulder was acting up and Virat was done. He did continue the same later in one of the corner of the nets, had a long discussion with the team physiothereapist and walked back into the dressing room.

Virat, later addressed the media and spoke about the situation of his injury. He assured, he will only feature in the final Test if he felt he was 100 per cent fit. “I will take the field only if I am hundred percent fit for the game. I don’t know the magnitude of the risk. All I know is that if I go through fitness test, I will take the field.”

The next few hours leading up to the Test match will be crucial for Virat’s recovery process. Whether he will take the field on Saturday, only time will tell. While talking to the media, Virat spoke about the discomfort he had while batting. “I wouldn’t say it is a normal feeling. It is obviously different from how you play at 100% fitness. Certainly, at this stage, the injury has an element of being aggravated in the field. While batting, there is no problem whatsoever of it getting aggravated. I have taken medication after the last game, so I am just hoping that it takes me only a bit more time to get back to the normal movements that I have. As I said, I have to give it a few more hours and take that call. We will have to give it that much time more to make a call with the physiotherapist.”

Virat further suggested that it was an impact injury and not an injury owing to lack of fitness. He assured he would take the right call keeping in mind the team’s best interest. “It’s not an injury caused because of lack of fitness. It’s an impact injury and the full match scenario, bowling at 140kmph and playing against that bowling needs to be kept in mind. As a player, as a captain you want to push yourself to take the field, if you can to help team’s cause. But we need to wait a bit more before we can take that decision.”

In a possibility of Virat being ruled out, Ajinkya Rahane is bound to take up the captaincy and lead the side in the final Test. Virat was confident of his deputy and his teammates. “I'm sure the guys will take it as an opportunity to still take the team ahead. Everyone's really proud and motivated to play for the country and me playing or not playing shouldn't make so much of a difference to the other 10 guys because they have a responsibility to fulfil as well. I have not done anything special so far, but still the guys have fought it out and that shows why we are the number 1 team in the world. We have quality players who want to step up given these kinds of opportunities. If that scenario happens, I am sure everyone's looking at it as probably the game-changing game of their lives. Everyone is looking very optimistic for tomorrow's game regardless.”

Shifting focus to the final Test, Virat was confident of a tight contest between both sides. He expected the pitch to assist the batsman and bowlers equally. “I think it is a very good cricket wicket. It has always been very good for the batsmen to get in and get value for their shots. And the bowlers as well, there is good bounce for the spinners. There is obviously good pace off the wicket for the quicks as well.

“If you do any discipline well, you can reap rewards on this kind of wicket. And the ball travels in the air also. I think it’s an opportunity for bat and ball both to dominate in different situations in the game and it will be a well-contested game for sure. It will certainly test the players to the fullest and good cricket should be on display on this wicket.”

Anand Subramaniam
Anand Subramaniam

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Will go all out in the final Test: Virat

India captain marks out positives from the Ranchi draw, heaps praise on Pujara, Saha & Jadeja

In a span of five days, emotions were on a high, momentum shifts changed the course of the game and there were standout performances from either teams that marked the end of a well fought Test match. Australia captain Steve Smith was of the opinion that his side had the momentum going into the final Test at Dharamsala. India captain Virat Kohli though was focussed on his side’s goals and positives going into the final Test.

“Everyone has their point of view. We will look at our positives and we are happy with where we brought the game to after just one innings,” Virat said. “We put ourselves in a position to win, so we feel it was a very good effort to get into a winning situation. If you are playing against the No. 2 side, you will expect that they will come out and fight, not just roll over. We didn’t need to bat in the second innings and they had to play for a draw. They will look at their positives and we will look at our positives and move forward. There is still one match to go, both will give their best.”

For India, it was a marathon innings from Cheteshwar Pujara that stood tall along with his batting partner Wriddhiman Saha who notched up his third Test ton. Virat for starters was all praise for Pujara.

“You know sometimes I feel really bad for him. People don’t understand his importance so much in this team and what a valuable player he is for us. He is the most composed player we have in the team. He is willing to grind for his runs, he doesn’t mind batting under pressure and he likes to take a challenge. Someone like that is priceless to have in the team.

“When the pressure situation comes up, he is someone who will put his hand up and play long for the team and hold up one end, which I think is a great quality. This season he has been outstanding. He has not been spoken about much or has been in the focus too much but he deserves much more than that. People need to stand up and take notice of what he has done this season, he has been outstanding with the bat and hopefully, he will continue that in the last Test.

“Saha's knock again was brilliant for us,” Virat continued speaking about the mammoth 199-run stand that Saha and Pujara shared. “He's always stood up when the team needs him and this game was no different. His partnership with Pujara was the reason we had a go at winning this Test. He is one guy who is always willing to do anything for the team. Wherever we ask him to bat, he bats. He plays any kind of role - positive, defensive and whatever we ask him to do, he never says no. I am really happy he performed in a big pressure match, in a difficult situation and put us in a position to have a shot at winning the game.”

Yes, India played well but Australia were no different when they were put under the pump in the second innings. Battling from four wickets down at Lunch to batting time and taking the match towards a draw was commendable, according to Virat. “I don’t want to take any credit away from their effort. They batted very well. Four down by lunch, and after that they didn’t lose a wicket in the entire session. So, credit to them. When someone plays well, you have to give them credit, we understand that.”

He also heaped praise on his bowlers, Jadeja, who in particular was outstanding with a match tally of nine wickets. “Jadeja’s bowling was outstanding in this match. All the bowlers bowled very well but Jadeja in my opinion was standout. If you look at his economy, on this pitch it was high-class bowling and that showed why he is the joint No. 1 bowler alongside Ashwin.”

Anand Subramaniam
Anand Subramaniam

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