This team won't take a backward step when provoked: Virat Kohli

This team won’t take a backward step when provoked: Virat Kohli

Kohli's comments come in the backdrop of the many heated exchanges between the two teams during the second Test at Lord's last week.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo by Gareth Copley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Virat Kohli was crystal clear in stating that the Indian team won’t go on the backfoot if provoked by the opposition. Kohli’s comments on the eve of the Headingley Test, the third of the five-match Pataudi Trophy, comes in the backdrop of the multiple heated exchanges between the two teams at Lord’s during the second fixture.

“This team won’t take a backward step when provoked. We play together, we play to win,” Kohli said.

Notably, Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah was seen in an animated discussion involving England’s Mark Wood and Jos Buttler on day four, while Kohli was himself involved in a heated altercation with James Anderson. He chose not to go into the details when asked what provoked him.

“Can’t give you the details of the words that were spoken. What happens on the field gives you extra motivation. These things happen but I don’t think the details need to be discussed later,” he said.

Virat Kohli hints at fielding an unchanged XI

India has adopted a 4:1 pace-spin strategy in both the Tests so far. Shardul Thakur, who bagged four wickets in the series-opener at Trent Bridge, before missing out on the Lord’s encounter owing to a hamstring injury, is fit and available for selection. However, Kohli hinted at fielding an unchanged XI.

“We don’t have any reason to change anything unless people have niggles, which we haven’t encountered. A winning combination, you don’t want to disturb. Especially after the second Test and players are even more excited to take the field,” he said.

This might as well mean more time on the benches for Ravichandran Ashwin, over whom India has preferred playing Ravindra Jadeja so far. However, with potentially four left-handers in England’s XI at Headingley – Rory Burns, Dawid Malan, Moeen Ali and Sam Curran – India might be tempted to play Ashwin, who feasts on that variety of batters in Test cricket. Kohli did not entirely rule out the chances of Ashwin playing in Leeds, though.

“As far as Ashwin playing is concerned, we were surprised to see the surface at Lord’s. I didn’t expect, I thought there would be more grass and spice. Anything is possible, we name a 12 and then according to conditions we pick,” Virat Kohli said in the pre-match press conference.