Nottingham: The Indian cricket team is better prepared this time as compared to previous tours since the one-and-a-half month rest between the World Test Championship final in June and the five-Test series beginning Wednesday has provided time for acclimatisation to the changing weather patterns in England, skipper Virat Kohli said on Tuesday.
“We are definitely much better prepared than we have been in the past. The situation [the break] allowed us to acclimatise and get used to the weather, because it can change quite drastically and quite quickly... As compared to the last tour, we have better experience. The younger players that we have, they are coming here after performing for the second time,” said Kohli at a virtual media interaction.
He said that the playing XI would be announced just before the toss on Wednesday, with the injury worries obviously playing on his mind. After Shubman Gill returned home with an injury in his left leg, Mayank Agarwal, who was the other opener available suffered concussion after being hit on his head during a net session on Monday. He has been ruled out from the Test while Gill’s replacement Prithvi Shaw is yet to join the squad.
With India adamant in playing Cheteshwar Pujara at No. 3, the available options to face the new ball with Rohit Sharma are KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari.
Kohli, who was the topscorer on the 2018 tour with 593 runs, said that the period of rest has given him and the boys a break amidst these times of quarantine.
“We have been here for some time. You get used to the weather patterns and secondly, your body also starts accepting the weather and the changes thereof. These are small things that matter a lot. Mentally, you get comfortable. That will definitely give us some advantage,” added Kohli.
India had last toured England in 2018 and although the scoreline was 1-4, the team had come very close to beating England in some matches. But they lost the crunch moments.
“The things we wanted to execute in the last series, we perhaps couldn’t. I have confidence if some players are not that successful in a situation, there will be others who can handle it. There will be someone to bail us out from some situation,” said the 32-year-old.
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“As a team, we look to improve things that we haven’t done well and that is one aspect of the game that we need to get better at, which is understanding when things are not going your way how to control the damage. That’s what Test cricket is all about,” he said and admitted that the series loss in 2018 was more due to losing some key moments.
Kohli said that Ben Stokes’s pullout from the series partly due to mental tiredness has shown how important such breaks are.
“As a captain, subconsciously, your mind keeps working. You get very little time to switch off. So from that point of view, the break was very important. You have seen Ben Stokes has taken a break and for the last one and-a-half years we have been in a bubble, playing. It is not easy. Such breaks are important. To refresh yourself and come back,” he added.
“If you don’t get players who are mentally fit to play, it gets tough to sustain quality of cricket. Many players can get tired of bubble life. For us the break is important. We are again going into this series afresh. With a fresh mindset. We are optimistic that we can play five Tests and are not confined to an environment. These small things matter a lot.”