On the eve of the Indian team’s departure for Dublin for their tour of Ireland and England, skipper Virat Kohli has announced that he has completely recovered from the neck injury he sustained while leading the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL this year.
“I’m 100 per cent ready to go. The neck is fine now. I’ve had six to seven sessions in Mumbai and I’m absolutely ready to go. I went through the fitness test as well and the body is feeling fine. I’m actually very excited to get back onto the field, which is a very rare feeling when you play so much cricket. But in hindsight, these breaks really help. It freshens you up and gets you pumped to get back out there again,” Kohli said at a press conference in New Delhi.
The India batting sensation has struggled in English conditions in the past where he averages a dismal 13.40 in five Tests. In order to better acclimatise himself to the conditions, the India skipper had lined up a maiden county stint with Surrey in the month of June. However, the neck injury meant that Kohli begins the tour without a county stint under his belt. The 29-year-old though stated that the break can be a blessing in disguise.
“In hindsight when I look at it, I think what has happened was in my best interest. Yes, I wanted to go and experience the conditions in England; that’s a place we haven’t played to our potential. It’s been four years since we last went there and one tends to forget how the scenario is like there. I wanted to witness the difficult phase of those conditions, like which (Cheteshwar) Pujara and Ishant (Sharma) played in,” Kohli stated.
“But if I was 90 per cent with my body and used to the conditions as compared to being 110 now and going in fresh, I would much rather be in this position. More than anything, you need to be fresh and attain 100 per cent fitness before a long tour such as this,” he added.
India’s batsmen will be thoroughly tested by England pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the five-match Test series but Kohli believes playing the limited-overs clashes before the five-day games will hold India in good stead.
“The swinging ball has the tendency to trouble the best of batsmen. But then that helps our fast bowlers as well. As a batting unit, it will be a challenge to square off against the swinging ball, but by the time the Test series arrive we won’t feel like we are playing an away series because by then, we would have already played plenty of limited-overs cricket already,” he explained.
“As a captain of the team, I would like to put in performances myself. I think a lot of people have been thinking about the 2014 tour for too long now. We played the Champions Trophy in England last year, not in Bangladesh. And after what happened during the Tests in South Africa, we are looking to play difficult cricket because that is the only way we can improve.”
India will be the busiest of all teams in the ICC’s new Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the five-year cycle from 2018-23.
Team India will play a total of 203 international matches in the period, which includes 51 Tests, 83 ODIs and 69 T20Is.
West Indies are the second busiest teams during the five-year period with a total of 186 international matches. Although India play the most matches across all formats, they will play eight fewer Tests than England who have been allotted the most matches in the longest format.
INDIA FTP SCHEDULE 2018-23
July-September: Away series in England (Five Tests, three ODIs, three T20Is)
September: Asia Cup
October-November: Home series against West Indies (Three Tests, five ODIs, three T20Is)
November 2018–January 2019: Away series in Australia (Four Tests, three ODIs, three T20Is)
January-February: Away series in New Zealand (Five ODIs and three T20Is)
February-April: Home series against Australia (Five ODIs and three T20Is)
April: Home series against Zimbabwe (One Test and three ODIs)
May-July: ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup in England
July-August: Away series in the West Indies (Two Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is)
October-November: Home series against South Africa (Three Tests)
November-December: Home series against Bangladesh (Two Tests and three T20Is)
December: Home series against the West Indies (Three ODIs and three T20Is)
January: Home series against Australia (Three ODIs)
February-March: Away series in New Zealand (Two Tests, three ODIs and five T20Is)
March: Home series against South Africa (Three ODIs and three T20Is)
June-July: Away series against Sri Lanka (Three ODIs and three T20Is)
July-August: Away series in Zimbabwe (Three ODIs)
September: Asia Cup
October: Home series against England (Three ODIs and three T20Is)
October: Away series in Australia (Three T20Is)
October-November: ICC World Twenty20 in Australia
November 2020-January 2021: Away series in Australia (Four Test and three ODIs)
January-March: Home series against England (Five Tests)
March: Home series against Afghanistan (Three ODIs)
June: World Test Championship Final
July-August: Away series in Sri Lanka (Three T20Is)
August-September: Away series in England (Five Tests)
October: Home series against South Africa (Three ODIs and three T20Is)
October-November: ICC World Twenty20
November-December: Home series against New Zealand (Two Tests and three T20Is)
December 2021-January 2022: Away series in South Africa (Three Tests and three T20Is)
January-February: Home series against the West Indies (Three ODIs and three T20Is)
February-March: Home series against Sri Lanka (Three Tests and three T20Is)
March: Away series in New Zealand (Three ODIs)
July: Away series in England (Three ODIs and three T20Is)
July-August: Away series in the West Indies (Three ODIs and three T20Is)
September: Asia Cup
October-November: Home series against Australia (Four Tests and three T20Is)
November: Away series in Bangladesh (Two Tests and three ODIs)
December 2022-January 2023:
January-February: Home series against Australia (Three ODIs)
February: Home series against New Zealand (Three ODIs)
February-March: 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup in India
The Indian team has hit a bit of a purple patch when it comes fast bowling. Earlier in the year, limited overs specialist Jasprit Bumrah became a late addition to the Test XI in South Africa and quickly became the leader of the pace attack.
Test regulars Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav continue to operate at desired levels while the fitness of Mohammed Shami is the only concern as far as the Indian management is concerned. On top of that, a fully fit Bhuvneshwar Kumar is almost certain to start every match for India, irrespective of the format.
The competition one rung below is intense with Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat fighting for a spot in the playing eleven, at least in limited overs cricket alongside other talents like Siddarth Kaul. And the latest pacer to stake his claim for a spot in the senior team is Deepak Chahar.
The 25-year-old right pacer first shot to fame when he took 8-10 in his first-class debut for his state team Rajasthan in 2010, dismissing Hyderabad for an Indian record low of 21.
However, lack of consistency and fitness issues in subsequent seasons meant he never attained the highs of this first-class debut again.
However this year’s IPL gave Chahar another opportunity to throw his hat in the ring as it’s a long away season for India culminating in the World Cup in England.
After seeing Deepak Chahar’s performances for the A team I seriously hope that he is being considered for the ODI team. I think he’ll be great in the World Cup!— AB (@abhidhoni183) June 20, 2018
In IPL 2018, Chahar impressed in Chennai Super Kings jersey, getting prodigious movement on occasions and forming a fine partnership with South Africa quick Lungi Ngidi towards the end of the tournament. In 12 matches, Chahar took 10 wickets at an economy of 7.2.
Chahar was deservedly picked for the India ‘A’ tour of England. In two tour warm-up games, Chahar has already picked up six wickets. Yes, they weren’t the strongest sides – and ECB XI and a second string Leicester side – but Chahar in English conditions is certain to get more assistance than others because he has the prefect action for it backed by decent pace.
Indian fans were pleasantly surprised by the impact of Bumrah in Test matches. Maybe Chahar can turn a few heads when the main matches against England ‘A’ begin.
With a long tour of England by the senior Indian team – which includes five Tests – to begin next month, you just never know who drops out or gets injured. Chahar will be waiting in the wings.