It was a happy outing for Team India in the 1st ODI against Sri Lanka. Though the Indian team is expected to go unchanged throughout this series, Kuldeep Yadav can make an appearance, especially as the dry wicket at Pallekele.
During the pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Indian skipper Virat Kohli expressed his thoughts on team combination and MS Dhoni’s form and future. Overall, it seems that India will go with the same squad, as they still have 4 games to play in this series. A win on Thursday will further strengthen their case and once they seal the series, experiments might come into play.
As per the reports of PTI, talking about the pitch conditions, Virat said, “Wicket similar to Dambulla. I don’t see any reason to change team just after 1 game but everything and any combination is possible.”
Dhoni has faced a lot of criticism due to his off late form and Kohli is hoping that the next 24 limited overs matches will help Dhoni to get into his groove. He said, “This coming season gives us an opportunity to define roles for players and give them time to execute it so that for the World Cup, we know exactly what one player needs to do in certain situations.”
He further added, “And it helps someone like MS also because he doesn’t play Test cricket anymore. This long streak of matches will help him be in touch with the international games, find some momentum and stick to it.”
For the Indian captain, it’s about growing the winning habit and sustaining them in the lead up to the World Cup. He said, “So it’s an opportunity for everyone in the team including MS to create good habits and sustain them over a period of time.”
Virat also reckons that Axar Patel can become a more crucial cog for Team India as compared to chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, which is the reason he was preferred in the playing XI. He explained, “It was a case of having two left-arm spinners that led us not playing Kuldeep in the first game. Axar was favored more than Kuldeep from the point of view that he bats quite well and he is a gun (great) in the field also. Kuldeep has got opportunities in the past.”
Elaborating about the same further, Kohli said, “(Yuzvendra) Chahal and Axar are guys who haven’t got many opportunities so we want to test them out. It’s all about giving opportunities to people which we feel will not hamper our plans in any way and at the same time, it’s about giving them exposure to international cricket.”
Despite all these statements, Kohli feels that Kuldeep will remain in thick of things. He said, “Kuldeep remains in the thick of things all the time. To have a guy like that in the team is always a boost. You might see two wrist spinners playing together if we feel that we don’t need that much depth in the batting in the coming games.”
When asked about giving Hardik Pandya the new ball, Kohli explained more about his bowling options, he said, “Hardik has the ability to swing the ball and he can bowl consistently over 135 km/hr. With the new ball, he can get a bit of extra bounce because of his height. We certainly look at it as a great option for us. Being the fifth bowler in the team, we can get four-five overs out of the way in the first 10, when the ball is swinging. Also, Jasprit Bumrah is our strike bowler and he comes in one-change. The teams obviously will be a bit more wary of him so that really gives us good balance in terms of whom to use when.”