We will keep into account the weather while discussing the combinations – Virat Kohli

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With the expected formation of a low-pressure zone over the east-central Arabian Sea, Mumbai – the venue of the second Test between India and New Zealand – is expected to be hit by heavy rains. 

The rain is expected to interrupt the second Test match between India and New Zealand and both teams are not ready to decide the playing XI for the match. Meanwhile, Virat Kohli is not eager to decide the unit which will play at Wankhede Stadium on December 3, Friday.

While his return into the team excludes one of the batters if India goes with the same playing XI and Kohli says that he will wait to understand the weather and conditions before deciding the combination.

“We have to keep the weather and changing conditions into account while discussing combinations,”

Kohli said on Thursday (December 2). 

“We will decide the team combination based on that. At the end of the day, you can’t assume that the weather will stay the same for all five days. Even if it changes, our decision will be based on what can possibly change.”

India had played three spinners and two pacers in the first Test at Kanpur which ended up in a thrilling draw. However, with more pace and variation being offered at Wankhede Stadium, Kohli is expecting that the fast bowlers would get more rewards.

The Indian skipper believes that there will be more rewards for those playing disciplined cricket on the day. 

“It looks like a typical Wankhede wicket, we expect it to have nice bounce, there’s value for all kinds of bowlers on the Wankhede,”

he said.

“When you bat you can get runs as well. So I think it’s a great wicket for good cricket and all skill sets are in the play all the time. Which is a great position to be in because then you know that you can utilize your resources very well, and the team that does it better has more chances of winning the Test match.

“You go in with the knowledge that you can use your bowlers – whether it’s the fast bowlers, spinners, whoever it is – and the batsmen can find value in playing good shots, in being solid at the crease and still believe that you can score runs. Even if the situation is difficult you can very well play a good knock from there on because the pitch allows you to.

“So I think this is a pitch which demands a lot of discipline, but at the same time, the rewards of the discipline are also much higher in percentage compared to some of the other venues where spin might be dominant and the fast bowlers don’t come into play. But on the Wankhede, I don’t think that’s ever been the case and I know for a fact that all the bowlers, especially in red-ball cricket, they really enjoy playing at the Wankhede and bowling on this pitch, and the batsmen love it (as well).”

With the conversation of the selection ongoing in the management, Shreyas Iyer would be a top choice as who scored a century and a half-century in the Kanpur Test. 

He will try to cover the slot in the middle order where the experienced duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkiya Rahane haven’t fired and there will be a tussle for the wicket-keeper’s slot where KS Bharat substituted brilliantly behind the wickets in place of Wriddhiman Saha, who suffered a spasm on his neck.

Kohli has confirmed the news that Saha has regained fitness and is available for selection for the second Test, but despite his miss-fired knock in the second innings, there will be enough of him for the team management to ponder over.

“You have to obviously understand the situation of where the team is placed, you have to understand where individuals stand at certain stages during the course of a long season. So you have to obviously communicate well, you have to speak to the individuals and approach them in a way where you explain things to them properly,”

Kohli said about the challenges of managing players when they aren’t selected in the XI.

“Mostly it’s been combination-based whenever we’ve done changes in the past and we’ve explained to the individuals and they’ve understood the mindset behind going in with a certain combination. It’s not a difficult thing to do when there is collective trust and belief in the group that we’re working towards the same vision.

“Along the line, there are ups and downs, and we understand that as cricketers or as sportspeople in general. It’s never a thing that you can say I’m absolutely okay or happy about being told that the combination doesn’t allow me to play. But that’s the dynamic of team sport and at the end of the day, we always prioritize the team first and make sure that we take care of individuals along the way.

“That’s something that we’ve done consistently – as a Test team we’ve backed a set of players who have done the job for the Indian cricket team in the last 5-6 years, and we maintain and continue to maintain that they are an integral part of the larger scheme of things, of the core group of the Indian Test team, and they’ve always been players that we’ve relied upon on many occasions, they’ve done the job.

“It’s upon realizing and being aware of what’s happening, and you find the right space and the right way to approach people. Obviously, along with the management and coaching staff, discussions happen in a very rounded manner and decisions are taken after a collective set of ideas that come to the table and we all discuss any of the issues that we have to address”.