#360view: Virat Kohli’s attacking mindset worked for India

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No weak links: India's Virat Kohli.

When the going gets tough, bravery is generally the first thing to go out of the window. Pragmatism takes precedence as mitigation of loss becomes the primary target.

It happens in sport as well, especially when a young team with a new captain is involved. 

Which is why the achievement of the Indian team in the second Test deserves all the praise it gets.

Following their shock defeat in Galle, a match they should have won convincingly after taking a lead of nearly 200 and snaring five second innings Sri Lankan wickets for 95 runs, the morale of the Indian dressing room must have been low. 

Having come close to a win in the Adelaide Test last year and again in the first Test in Sri Lanka, captain Virat Kohli and his young team must have been wondering when the wait for success on foreign soil will end.

Yesterday’s win must have given them immense joy and, more importantly, a sense of relief.

Many had started to question whether the Indian team management’s new policy of ‘attack first’ could be sustained given that the team is very young and doesn’t have a world class bowling attack.

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To justify his method, Kohli went in with a five-bowler attack and kept the team one batsman short. That policy backfired spectacularly at Galle where the Indians failed to reach a modest target of 176 to go 1-0 down in the three Test series.

Both Kohli and team director Ravi Shastri must have given the idea of beefing up the batting a serious thought. But this is where the resilience of the think tank shone through.

Kohli stuck with five bowlers and ordered the team to go at the Sri Lankans even harder. The policy paid off as they registered their second biggest away Test victory in terms of runs. 

Every member of the playing 11 contributed at some point or the other during the Colombo Test, which is a matter of pride for any team. All top order batsmen contributed with substantial knocks and every bowler took wickets and bowled a tight line, including all-rounder Stuart Binny. 

The fielding was exceptional, meaning India did not have one weak link in their side.

It was important for the Indians to win the second Test because the Sri Lankan team, despite their heroic effort at Galle, actually is in a fragile state. They lost all three home series to Pakistan and with Kumar Sangakkara also walking into the sunset, are light on top quality players who can take control of a Test.

While India have got the monkey off their back, it’s imperative that they don’t let their foot off the pedal because the only way a team can progress is by making winning a habit. 

We saw during the recently concluded Ashes series that both England and Australia oscillated between the brilliant and terrible so regularly, no one could say with certainty that series victors England were clearly the better side.

India won’t get many opportunities like this one to register a series win away from home and they need to drive home the advantage from here.  They relaxed after being in a commanding position in the first Test and paid a big price for it. 

Their main target must now be to forget the second Test as quickly as possible and set their sights on the third match because a positive result there will provide Kohli and his side the belief that their new mantra is worth investing in in the long run.

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Kumar Sangakkara didn't get a fairytale farewell fit for an all-time great on Monday (August 24), but the cricketer did get a pleasant surprise on the final day of his last Test: the government offered him a role as Sri Lanka's envoy in Great Britain.









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England rest Joe Root as uncapped Reece Topley gets ODI and T20I call-up

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Topley will be looking to make his England debut.

Joe Root has been rested and Reece Topley is the only uncapped player called up as England announced two limited-overs squads to take on Australia.

Root, an ever-present in England squads in all formats of recent times and winner of the Compton-Miller Medal as man of the series in this summer’s Ashes, is rested both from a 13-man squad for next Monday’s one-off NatWest Twenty20 international in Cardiff and from a 14-man squad for the five Royal London one-day internationals which follow.

Essex left-arm seamer Topley, 21, is included in the Twenty20 squad only.

Eoin Morgan will captain both, having led England in their unsuccessful World Cup campaign last winter but also then to success in a thrilling ODI series victory at home to New Zealand.

Morgan has been rested for several matches by Middlesex after losing his form with the bat, but will be back in international colours as expected.

Moeen Ali is back in both squads too, having been injured at the start of the summer, as is his fellow all-rounder Chris Woakes, who was similarly absent until recently with knee and hamstring trouble.

There is, however, perhaps surprisingly, no place for Jonny Bairstow – man-of-the-match for the hard-hitting innings which helped England to an unlikely series-clinching ODI victory over the Kiwis at Chester-le-Street in June, when Jos Buttler was unavailable after splitting the webbing on his hand.

Pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Jordan, back from injury for Sussex, is another who has not got the nod from England this time.

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National selector James Whitaker said: “We have made some significant progress in our limited-overs cricket this summer, and the next six games allow these players to continue testing themselves against one of the very best sides in the world.

“This is primarily a young group of players, and the next three weeks will provide them with valuable experience as we continue to identify those who can take our limited-overs cricket forward over the next four years.”

Australia are World Cup holders, having beaten New Zealand in the final in Melbourne following England’s embarrassing early exit almost six months ago.

Yorkshire seamer Liam Plunkett has been named in the ODI squad, and is hoping to make up for a little lost time having spent much of the summer as cover for England’s Test bowlers.

He said: “It is going to be huge.

“Obviously, the Ashes have been great to watch. I have been 12th or 13th man, so I have been there – and it’s been a great atmosphere.”

Plunkett knows it will not be easy against Australia.

He added: “They won the World cup not so long ago – they are the best in the world, so it’s going to be a tough ‘ask’.

“But we beat New Zealand, who were in that World Cup final, so it shows where we are – and I am really looking forward to the tough competition.”

England T20 squad: EJG Morgan (Captain), MM Ali, SW Billings, JC Buttler, ST Finn, AD Hales, AU Rashid, JJ Roy, BA Stokes, RW Topley, JM Vince, DJ Willey, CR Woakes.
England ODI squad: EJG Morgan (Captain), MM Ali, SW Billings, JC Buttler, ST Finn, AD Hales, LE Plunkett, AU Rashid, JJ Roy, BA Stokes, JWA Taylor, DJ Willey, CR Woakes, MA Wood.

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