Wriddhiman Saha is completely fit, team combination for second Test will depend on weather conditions: Virat Kohli

Wriddhiman Saha is completely fit, team combination for second Test will depend on weather conditions: Virat Kohli

I enjoy playing at the Wankhede and have happy memories playing here, Kohli said of playing in Mumbai.

Virat Kohli speaking
Virat Kohli speaking. (Photo Source: ICC)

Virat Kohli confirmed the availability of Indian wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha for the second Test in Mumbai, starting December 3. Saha batted with a stiff neck in the Kanpur draw, while KS Bharat had to substitute him in both the innings behind the wickets.

Kohli, who comes back into the fold after being rested for the first Test, also reckoned that the combination team management plays will be reliant on the weather conditions, which are likely to remain overcast. Both the teams were forced to cancel their training on December 1 due to persistent rain.

It is understood, meanwhile, that Saha remains the first-choice backup in the absence of Rishabh Pant. “Saha is fit as of now and he has completely recovered from a stiff neck issue,” Kohli said in a virtual conference ahead of the Mumbai Test.

The bigger question, however, is: who would Kohli replace in the XI?. Despite being short of runs, it is unlikely India would drop Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane, who led the team in Kohli’s absence in Kanpur.

Shreyas Iyer, who would have otherwise been the most obvious choice to make space for the returning Indian skipper, given he was not in the scheme of things initially, has made it nearly impossible for the management to sit him out after his 105 and 65 on debut at Kanpur’s Green Park. There is a case for India dropping Mayank Agarwal, who had a forgettable first Test after coming back into the team straight after the Brisbane Test earlier this year.

“The combination of the playing XI we have to discuss, keeping in mind the weather conditions in Mumbai. We can’t assume that weather will be like this on all five days of the Test match,” Kohli said when asked about the team combination.

“All the members of the team understand where the team is placed. We always communicate well and if someone needs to be dropped it is combination based. This is not a difficult task when there is collective trust in the team as we prioritise the team first. The discussion always happens in our team in a rounded manner.”

Credit to New Zealand for batting out the final session in Kanpur: Virat Kohli

Meanwhile, the Indian skipper said he was not disappointed by the result of the Kanpur Test, which India came agonisingly close to winning, only to be denied by the last-wicket pair of Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel, who blocked out 52 balls together to secure a draw.

“I watched the game and they tried everything they could as a team. Jinx (Ajinkya Rahane) has always brought great ideas to put the opposition under pressure as he did against Australia earlier this year. But sometimes we have got to give credit to the opposition as well for batting out the final session.”

Kohli, who scored a brilliant 235 (against England in 2016) the last time India played a Test at the Wankhede, stated that he has “enjoyed” his time at the venue.

“I enjoy playing at the Wankhede and have happy memories playing here. You can’t bat in the same manner all the time. If the situation demands me to bat longer, keep one end secure, I will bat accordingly.”