Looking at forming a strong top-order: Kohli

Looking at forming a strong top-order: Kohli

Virat Kohli

In the recent Test series defeats in South Africa and England, there was a certain pattern in the Indian batting performance.

A first innings failure would leave Virat Kohli’s men playing catch-up. And their second innings would oscillate between a spineless show and the inability to finish off games.

The unsettled top-order transferred pressure on the middle-order, which flattered to deceive. Barring Kohli, not many adapted to the conditions. When the line-up did show some resilience, like Cheteshwar Pujara’s fighting 50 in Johannesburg or the centuries from K L Rahul and Rishabh Pant in the final Test at the Oval, it appeared too little too late.

Kohli, fresh from a small break, was quick to admit that batting was a bit of a concern. “Yes, the batting hasn’t been up to the mark. That’s why we weren’t able to win series in South Africa and England,” said Kohli here at a press conference on the eve of India’s first Test against West Indies.

“If you look at the teams winning Test matches, it’s their top-order or lower-order doing most of the work. England’s lower-order was much better than ours and that made the difference. Batsmen at the top struggled for form. And down the order, players like Ashwin (Ravichandran) and Jadeja (Ravindra) have played their roles well at home. Just that it’s time they remain in the same zone when we play outside India,” Kohli explained.

During the West Indies series, the team’s primary focus would be to find a solid opening combination, Kohli said. “In this series, we are looking at forming a strong top-order. Apart from that the team looked settled. We have a couple of new guys coming in. Players like Prithvi (Shaw) and Mayank (Agarwal) are supremely talented. What we have seen of them is exciting and it’s a great opportunity for them,” he said.

The Indian skipper wasn’t impressed with the criticism on the team management’s habit of tinkering with the playing XI almost every game. “We play the best XI on the field and there is no doubt about that. In the past, most of the changes have been in the bowling department. The bowlers who have sat out have never been made to feel hard done by the decisions. The changes have been good for us as we have taken 20 wickets in most of the matches. We change teams based on the wickets and conditions. It’s not that we chop and change for the sake of being different.”