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Will Back New Recruits Asserts Kohli but Refuses Comment on Nair Exclusion

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: October 3, 2018, 4:29 PM IST

India skipper Virat Kohli said the top-order needs some sorting and that new players like Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal will be given enough space to showcase their talent in the two-Test series against West Indies starting Thursday.

India have already announced their 12 players for the opening Test and Shaw, 18, is set to make his debut.

"We have a change at the top of the order. We will give these guys enough space and enough chances to feel comfortable at that position. We want them to be confident of what they are doing," Kohli said in the pre-match press conference.

Kohli also heaped praise on the new trio (including Vihari) and urged them to look this as an opportunity and not put themselves under pressure.

“Everyone wants to play for the country. It's good to see that all these guys are not just performing in the IPL but are also taking domestic cricket very seriously."

"Someone like Vihari, Prithvi or Mayank, they have been brought in because of what they have done in the domestic circuit. It's an exciting opportunity for them. They should look at this as an opportunity and not take pressure because it's a great chance for them to cement their place and play for long time.

“It's heartening to see especially in four-day cricket that so many guys are scoring heaps of runs apart from also playing IPL. I think it's a very healthy sign and it's something that will always keep Indian cricket in a good space.”

Kohli has often been criticised for making too many changes in the playing XI. It was only after 38 Tests as captain, Kohli fielded an unchanged XI in the fourth Test against England at Southampton's Rose Bowl.

However, the 29-year-old said most of the changes were made in the bowling department and while keeping the conditions in mind.

"In the past, most of the changes that we have made has been in the bowling combination and people have very conveniently taken it otherwise," Kohli pointed out.

"I can't say you can vouch with the team because the team believes in it. The bowlers that have sat out have never felt like they have been hard done or it's been unfair to them because the motive has always been to bring the best XI out."

India had their moments both in South Africa and England but failed to pounce on it. While India lost 1-2 in South Africa, they went down 1-4 against Joe Root's men.

While Indian openers didn't contribute much in England, their bowlers allowed opponents' lower-order to chip in with handy runs which eventually was the biggest reason for their defeat.

Kohli stated that this is an area that the team will look to improve on, something that will be needed given the tour of Australia takes place right after this series.

"We as a team and everyone outside knows the area where we need to improve on. If you look at sides who win Test matches, contributions at the top and lower-order are more crucial than the guys who bat in the middle because whatever happens in the middle is connected to either what the top or lower order does.

“The reason why England won was because their lower-order showed more resistance. I won't say their top-order did better than us because all the batsmen struggled there because of the conditions but their lower-order contributed more than ours. We realise that.”

Meanwhile, taking about the Karun Nair's omission, Kohli asserted that it is not his space to comment on the topic.

"Selectors have already spoken about it and it is not my place to say," he said. "There are selectors doing their job. You can conveniently merge everything and make it a circle where everyone is doing their job and not focusing on what people are saying on the outside."

After the team was announced, chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said he spoke to Nair and told him what he needs to do to make a comeback.

"If a person has spoken about it already, it should not be brought in here again. The chief selector has already spoken to the player of what I know. I don't think I need to comment on that," said Kohli.

"Selection is not my job. As a team we are doing what we are supposed to. Everyone should be aware of their respective jobs."

First Published: October 3, 2018, 3:31 PM IST

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