London: India skipper Virat Kohli has hinted that the team management won’t shore up batting by bringing in R Ashwin as replacement for injured pacer Shardul Thakur and will instead stick to the combination of four specialist pace bowlers and a spinner for the second Test that begins on Thursday.
Thakur, who was picked for last week’s first Test due to his ability to bat, has been ruled out of second Test due to myofascial strain on his left hamstring.
Ashwin, who has bowled well in recent times and can bat too, may have been a suitable replacement. He scored a century in the second Test of the home series against England in Chennai in February.
“The good thing is that Jadeja has got runs in the first Test already. So he will go into the second game confident. That already makes our batting a bit deeper. Lower order contributed with the bat as well,” said Kohli to media on the eve of the second Test that begins on Thursday.
“Shardul brings in more batting ability [to the side]. But having said that, from the batting point of view we are well placed because Pujara, Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane) and myself… Rohit and KL played very well [in the first Test]. So we are comfortable with where we are placed as a batting unit and we don’t feel we might be a batsman short if Shardul doesn’t play,” added Kohli.
The 32-year-old Kohli said the priority of the team is to pick 20 wickets of the opposition.
“For us, it is about finding that perfect balance. But if someone like Shardul is not available, we will definitely look at first how to pick 20 wickets, and not try to plug in another guy who can give us runs with the bat. We feel very comfortable with how the first Test went,” added Kohli of the possibility of fielding four pacers and a spinner.
With rain expected in the second Test, it is unlikely India will play two spinners as they might not get as much assistance from the surface.
Kohli added that having four bowlers ensures there is continuous pressure.
“Four fast bowlers mean that you can apply pressure through the day in every session. You basically take field thinking that the fourth guy comes in and does the job of being very consistent. We are definitely not going to underbowl anyone. In a four-bowler combination, you have to figure which bowler is most likely to give you breakthroughs and which ones are going to contain. According to that, you put them in priority,” added the 32-year-old.
“The guy who is more likely to contain, then comes in and bowls spells which don’t leak runs so that others can come back and get you those breakthroughs. So we definitely like playing in that kind of template and we have never felt that when we have played four [pace] bowlers and underbowled anyone. We have felt very balanced [when] we have played four bowlers (pacers) because we are constantly looking to create pressure and take wickets.”