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India vs West Indies: There’s not much room to change, says Virat Kohli

Indian skipper Virat Kohli has said that the batsmen will have to take more responsibility in the second Test against West Indies starting Saturday.

A green wicket is to be laid out for the match, after the visitors took a 1-0 lead in the four-Test series by winning in Antigua by an innings and 92 runs.

“We’re not focussing on the opposition too much but we are happy that the wicket is going to have some bounce and carry. There was decent enough bounce in Antigua for us to exploit whatever help was there. Jamaica is going to be even better. It’s a result-oriented ground and we’re quite excited about it. We’ve got good pace, the bowlers are bowling good areas,” Kohli said.

“We believe that our batsmen are good enough to tackle any pace and bounce that West Indies’ bowlers have. The plan is to go out there and play with the determination and focus that we showed in the first game. Obviously we need to be wary of the conditions a bit more because it is a ground that is result oriented,” Kohli said.

It’s obviously going to take more application than we showed at Antigua. It’s going to take more responsibility and more concentration by the batsmen to get the job done. R Ashwin came good at six, Wriddhiman Saha played well and Amit Mishra got runs too. That just deepens our batting line-up and gives us the same bowling options that are required to take 20 wickets,” he added.

There hasn’t been a draw at Sabina Park since 1998 with India winning by 63 runs on their last visit here in 2011. As such, the skipper ruled out too many changes to his playing eleven, except Murali Vijay, who has been ruled out owing to a thumb injury sustained on the first morning of the series.

KL Rahul is set to play his first Test in the Caribbean, although Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Stuart Binny might still not get a look-in.

“Rahul has been in a very good zone. He scored runs in the practice games, he scored in Zimbabwe and he had a great IPL season. I think that was the turnaround for confidence as far as he’s concerned. Last year, he had a good tour to Sri Lanka, got a hundred there, but again he didn’t play against South Africa,” Kohli said.

“It’s more a case of a guy waiting for an opportunity. He wants to play. He’s batting really well and wants to make it count. He wants to get big runs. I’m confident of his abilities. He’s pretty compact, he’s a solid opener and he’s a great fielder as well. He gives you that wicket-keeping option as well, in case something happens to Saha,” said Kohli.

“Obviously, when you take a big squad away from home, it’s always great to have the players that we have on the bench, knowing that if anything happens to anyone or if someone’s not being able to execute what he wants on the field, we still have options that are world-class,” he said.

“If you see Rohit, Bhuvneshwar and Jadeja, all three are world-class cricketers. They have amazing skill sets. It’s always pleasing for a captain knowing that you can play with freedom of playing the best eleven that you have, but at the same time you have options,” Kohli said.

Additionally, talking about the possibility of changing the five-pronged bowling attack as per the conditions, the Indian captain said, “There’s not much room to change when you’ve won the first game, knowing that the fast bowlers have done the job. There’s good bounce in this wicket. The last time we played a Test here, in 2011, Mishra and Harbhajan both got good turn and bounce. So the spinner can’t be left out of the game. There is a second innings as well and we need to understand that.”

“It’s not overcast conditions and a green pitch where you will compromise on one spinner. You know that when the wicket dries up it will start turning and there is good bounce so the spinners will come into play,” Kohli said.

“For that we have to have all bases covered for us to take 10 wickets in the second innings also. We need to have a good balance of spinners and fast bowlers for us to get a result. And that’s what we had in the first game. As I said, when you win there’s not that much room for change unless the conditions are drastically different, which they are not,” he added.

As such, India will be looking to strive for consistency after a near-perfect victory in the first Test. At the same time, they will also have to guard against complacency against a relatively weak and largely inexperienced West Indies.

“In Test cricket, if we want to become a consistent team, then we need to inculcate good habits, and they shouldn’t differ from team to team. So if you have an opportunity to take wickets and score runs for the team, then you need to take it, whichever team it is against,” he said.

“By doing that you can win matches for your team, and every match counts, as a team, and our thinking is that we don’t focus on the other team. We always look at getting results, and on this wicket you always get results, that’s what I’ve seen. So we’re quite excited by that, that we have an opportunity here to win as a team,” Kohli signed off.

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