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Kohli welcomes new talent as part of T20 World Cup roadmap

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

With the 2020 T20 World Cup just a year away, India captain Virat Kohli has his sights trained on the mega event, even as his team begins its preparations for the tournament with a three-match home series against South Africa, starting on Sunday, September 15.

India, having trumped West Indies in each of the three formats on their tour of the islands, now kickstart their home season, starting with the assignment against South Africa, whom they play in three T20Is and as many Tests over the next four weeks.  The hosts have opted to rest pacemen Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, and spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, all of whom form the core of their limited-overs bowling set-up.

“We wanted to give opportunities to players who have done well for the past two years in the domestic circuit and T20 cricket in the IPL,” Kohli said of his new-look attack on the eve of the first T20I in Dharamsala. “It is about finding the best possible balance we can for the side and not necessarily stick to one particular type of balance. If other teams can bat till No.9, why can’t we? Whatever decisions are made, they are made looking at the future.”

The selectors have retained their faith in the younger fast bowlers Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini and Khaleel Ahmed, and leg spinner Rahul Chahar, all of whom were a part of the T20I series against West Indies. All-rounder Hardik Pandya, whose last international appearance came in the 50-over World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, returns to the squad.

“The first two to three T20I series will help us assess every situation,” Kohli said. “Definitely, the roadmap for T20 World Cup in 2020 is on our mind. It is an exciting prospect looking at the new bunch of guys in our line-up.”

The skipper, however, is in no mood for any compromises on the results. “We want to win every game, whether it’s home or away, any format – we just want to go out there, play our best cricket and win,” he said.

“For us as a home team, we have to absolutely be sure of our game plan. The way we prepare for overseas series, where we have to be very focused, it’s the same. International cricket is nowadays about the mindset. As coach Ravi Shastri has said in the past – ‘every condition can be home condition if you feel comfortable’. I think it’s getting into the frame of mindset for us, and hence we have been one of the most consistent teams in the last two-three years.”

Kohli also cleared the air surrounding his tweet on former captain MS Dhoni, which had sparked off discussions yet again on the veteran’s retirement.

“I had nothing in my mind,” Kohli said of the tweet. “I was sitting at home and I normally put out a photograph and it became a news.

“I think it was a lesson for me, that the way I think, the whole world does not think that way. There was nothing in farthest stretch of my imagination [that it could be taken as retirement tribute] while putting that picture out on social media. People interpreted it in a different manner in which there was not even an iota of truth.”

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