STATOSPHERE

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games -

ered from vi­ral fever, will walk back into the team. Vi­rat Kohli made it clear that the reg­u­lar opener had done more than enough to be af­forded this lux­ury.

“Ob­vi­ously KL has been our es­tab­lished opener. I feel one of the open­ers will have to make way for KL be­cause, what he’s done in the past two years has been very solid, and he de­serves to come back and start fresh in Test cricket again,” said Kohli.

“It’s very im­por­tant for us to make him feel that this is his spot. And it won’t be changed be­cause of un­for­tu­nate events that hap­pen out­side of the play­ing field or the in­juries that you can’t con­trol. It’s very im­por­tant to make him feel se­cure and he de­serves it be­cause he has given us those big per­for­mances when the team has re­quired the most. He is a guy that needs to be backed and we as a team, as man­age­ment and me as cap­tain all back him 100%.”

What this means is that Ab­hi­nav Mukund, de­spite be­ing a livewire un­der the hel­met and scor­ing an as­sured 81 in the sec­ond in­nings of the first Test, will be back on the bench. “I feel in a sit­u­a­tion like this, you need to sit down and think which player has had more im­pact on the game, who has been able to sort of make that dif­fer­ence in the game straight­away. It all de­pends on who has had a bet­ter game, to be hon­est. It’s a pretty thin line, it is a very small mar­gin but un­for­tu­nately, that is how the sport goes some­times and things hap­pen in a team en­vi­ron­ment.” If that yard­stick was ap­plied, Dhawan’s swash­buck­ling 190 trumps any­thing Ab­hi­nav brought to the ta­ble.

In the bowl­ing depart­ment, In­dia’s choice is a more nu­anced one. Logic dic­tates that an ex­tra spin­ner may come in handy on this pitch, mak­ing Kuldeep Ya­dav the on­ly­op­tion­topart­nerRAsh­winandRavin­draJadeja.To ac­com­mo­date the left-arm wrist spin­ner, In­dia could leave out ei­ther Hardik Pandya or Umesh Ya­dav. Given just how much the team fan­cies Pandya’s ex­plo­sive bat­ting, it would come as no sur­pri­seifUmesh­wastheone­tomiss out. How­ever, an­other school of thought is that In­dia’s front­line spin­ners could com­fort­ably do the job on a help­ful sur­face, and Umesh put his re­verse swing to good use on an abra­sive sur­face.

The good thing for Kohli is that In­di­a­havethelux­u­ry­of­know­ing that what­ever com­bi­na­tion they pick, the odds will be stacked against Sri Lanka. This will be Chetesh­war Pu­jara’s 50th Test. hun­dreds in each of the two Tests Pu­jara has played in Sri Lanka so far — 145 not out at the SSC in 2015 and 153 at Galle in the last match. runs Ravichan­dran Ash­win needs to get to 2000 Test runs. SONY SIX

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