CRICKET

Kohli tells In­dia to show S Lanka who’s num­ber one

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Two years ago Vi­rat Kohli’s In­dia started a se­ries in Sri Lanka as the team al­most any­one could beat, to­day they take to the field in Galle as the team to beat.

In­dia may have been ner­vous last time, but now Kohli says the side has come full cir­cle with “no mas­sive ar­eas of con­cern” as they seek to strengthen their hold on num­ber one Test na­tion sta­tus.

Two years ago, In­dia had not won a se­ries in seven at­tempts. They lost the open­ing Galle Test and it was an elec­tro-shock. They won that se­ries 2-1. In­dia have since been em­broiled in near chaos off the field-the gov­ern­ing body put un­der Supreme Court ad­min­is­tra­tion and a coach forced out by clashes with the cap­tain­but near dom­i­na­tion in com­pe­ti­tion: 13 Tests played, 10 won, two drawn and just one de­feat. Kohli said yes­ter­day that he wants a de­fin­i­tive end to the drama over the de­par­ture of Anil Kum­ble as coach and a win­ning start to the new era with Ravi Shas­tri. “We have spo­ken enough about these is­sues and it is some­thing that we are not fo­cus­ing on at all now,” the skip­per Kohli said.

“We are just look­ing for­ward to the cricket now and in this se­ries to show­case our skills and have con­sis­tent per­for­mances, which we have had as a side ever since we started our climb back in the rank­ings.”

Kohli said Sri Lanka can ex­pect a dif­fer­ent start and that In­dia can dom­i­nate Tests for years to come. They are ex­pected to de­fend their top Test rank­ing in South Africa, Eng­land and Aus­tralia in the next year.

“It’s pretty dif­fer­ent sit­ting here two years af­ter that par­tic­u­lar se­ries,” Kohli said of the last Sri Lanka games. Those Tests were “very im­por­tant in us com­ing to­gether as a team in be­liev­ing that we can win a se­ries and not just matches. So that was the be­gin­ning of that mind­set.” The cap­tain added: “I think we have built a re­ally good base for us as a team to be able to do that con­sis­tently over the next few years. “We are pretty hum­ble in our prepa­ra­tions and do the hard yards ev­ery game that we play. “We have all bases cov­ered strongly.” In­dia have ruled open­ing bats­man Lokesh Rahul out of the first Test with a vi­ral fever. Kohli said there would be no ex­per­i­ments with the open­ing lineup, which means Shikhar Dhawan and Ab­hi­nav Mukund should start the bat­ting.

“I don’t think there are any mas­sive ar­eas of con­cern for us,” Kohli said. “We’ve been look­ing to fine-tune smaller ar­eas dur­ing the course of the game, which prob­a­bly peo­ple might not be able to pick up.” Kohli said the onus was on the In­dian play­ers to “put us into a po­si­tion where we can’t lose.

“We have been able to put our­selves in a po­si­tion in games, 80-85 per­cent of the games, where there’s only one win­ner left. “That’s the kind of sus­tained pres­sure that we’ve been able to build.”

— AFP

GALLE: Sri Lankan crick­eters Su­ranga Lak­mal (L) play foot­ball as team­mate Nuwan Pradeep (R) looks on dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion at Galle In­ter­na­tional Cricket Sta­dium in Galle yes­ter­day. In­dia will play three Tests, five one-day in­ter­na­tion­als and a Twenty20 game in Sri Lanka. The first Test starts to­day in Galle.

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