Ahmedabad: A rank turner is being anticipated at Motera but India captain Virat Kohli expects pacers to have as big a role as spinners in the day-night third Test against England, a side riddled with “many weaknesses” according to him.
Kohli expects the pacers to be in the game till the ball is “nice and shiny”. “I don’t think that is an accurate assessment (that bowl will not swing). The pink ball does tend to swing a lot more than the red ball. We experienced that when we played for the first time in 2019 (against Bangladesh),” Kohli said in the pre-match press conference.
Kohli also rejected the assessment that England would have an edge if the pitch favours pacers. “…not really bothered about what the strengths and weaknesses of the English team are. We have beaten them in their home as well, where the ball does way more and hold them out every time so we’re not really bothered with that. It’s just about playing well as a team,” he said.
“And yeah, there are many, many weaknesses in the opposition side as well, if you are keen to exploit them. If it’s a seamer friendly track for them it’s for us as well. “And we probably have, you know, among other teams, the best bowling attack in the world so we’re not really bothered by what the ball might bring differently to the table. We’re ready for anything that comes our way,” he asserted.
Kohli said facing the pink ball is more challenging than the red ball irrespective of the nature of the surface.
“It is much more challenging to play with pink ball regardless of the pitch you play on. Especially in the evening, if as a batting team, you are starting your innings under lights then that one and a half hour is very challenging,” he said.
“Yes spin will come into play for sure but I don’t think the new ball and fast bowlers can be ignored. The pink ball does bring them into the game till the ball is nice and shiny, something we are very well aware of and preparing accordingly,” added Kohli.
India have played only two pink-ball Tests so far. They won at home against Bangaldesh in 2019 but more recently, lost to Australia heavily in Adelaide, where they were bowled their lowest total ever — 36.
Talking about the experience his team has gained from the two outings, Kohli said: “Last time we experienced that the first session is probably the nicest to bat when the sun is out and ball doesn’t do much. But when it starts to get dark, especially during that Twilight, it gets very tricky.
“The light changes, it’s difficult to see the ball and then under lights, it is like playing the first session in the morning. In a normal Test match the ball does tend to swing a lot (in morning). So, I think it’s a reversal of roles and something that you need to adjust to quite quickly,” he explained.
A win at Motera will see Kohli surpassing M S Dhoni to become the most successful Indian captain at home. Kohli had equalled Dhoni’s record of 21 wins in the second Test in Chennai.
“These are very fickle things which probably look great from the outside comparing two individuals and that’s something that people on the outside love to do all the time.
“But that really doesn’t matter to any of us to be very honest because the mutual respect and understanding and camaraderie that we have as teammates or with your ex-captain is something that you hold really close to your heart.” India need to win the series 2-1 or 3-1 to qualify for the WTC final and a draw in the final game will be enough if the hosts win the day-nighter here.
“We’re not looking to win one and draw one we are looking to win both. For us, these are two games of cricket and solely the only thing that we’re focused on. What it does afterwards is a conversation for later,” said Kohli in response to a question on WTC.