By Tim Wigmore
Virat Kohli has suggested that England’s batsmen may be mentally scarred after their collapses during the latter stages of last winter’s Test series in India.
England failed to pass 205 in any of their six innings across the last three Tests against India, as they suffered crushing defeats by 317 runs, 10 wickets and then an innings and 25 runs, and in their only series since, earlier this summer, they were beaten 1-0 by New Zealand.
Indian captain Kohli attempted to ramp up the pressure on Joe Root’s side by claiming his powerful bowling attack will try to target these vulnerabilities in the five-Test series, which begins today at Trent Bridge.
“If the scars are being carried or not, I’m not in a position to answer that, it honestly depends on the individual walking out to bat,” Kohli said.
“That all depends on the batsman, working out how much scarring they carry with them when they walk out to bat. That’s basically it.
“I can vouch for the fact that we definitely have the ability to bowl them out on a consistent basis. That’s the kind of quality that we possess, and as long as we execute our skills and our plans then we are very confident of doing that very often in the series.”
India have two main selection dilemmas at Trent Bridge. They must decide who should open in place of Mayank Agarwal, who suffered concussion symptoms after being hit on the helmet in training on Monday, and how to balance their attack. KL Rahul, who scored a century in India’s last Test in England, is set to return as opener. India are also expected to drop one of their spin bowling allrounders – probably Ravindra Jadeja – to select a fourth seamer, with seam bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur likely to be selected to balance the side from number eight.
But Kohli said that, despite these issues, India are “much better prepared” than on previous tours of England. India have been in England since early June and played the World Test Championship final – which they lost to New Zealand – at the Ageas Bowl.
“Playing under different changes in conditions in terms of weather, whether it’s overcast, or it’s sunny, how the pitches behave, how the ball travels, how much it swings in the air. All those kinds of things are definitely going to add to our experience, which already the team possesses a lot of having played in England in the past,” Kohli said. “We’re definitely much better prepared than we have been in the past, the situation allowed us to acclimatise.”
After their remarkable series victory in Australia last winter, Kohli said that the series in England presented another opportunity for India to win a big Test series in overseas conditions.
“For us it’s all about wanting difficult cricket, wanting tough cricket and wanting to win in conditions which are not ours, that’s the only challenge that I see.
“It all boils down to execution in crunch moments and that purely comes from belief and how badly you want to be in situations which are not easy. As long as we’re looking to embrace that, we will find answers to all the questions.”