Exciting opportunity for new guys in T20I squad, says Kohli

Mumbai: India skipper Virat Kohli on Monday said it will be a ‘very exciting opportunity’ for the likes of Chahar brothers and Navdeep Saini to make a mark in the limited overs format during the upcoming tour of the West Indies.

A number of players who are not a regular with the Indian team in either T20Is or ODIs made the limited-overs squads as the selection committee made its intention clear to move forward from India’s semi-final ouster from the ICC World Cup and build for the future. “The T20s as you have seen, the squads, when I met the selectors, the basic message from them was to try out a few players that they had in mind. I think it is a very exciting opportunity for all the guys who are stepping in for the first time,” Kohli said at the pre-departure press conference.

Deepak and Rahul Chahar, Saini, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Washington Sundar are a mixture of new and old faces to have been included in the squad for the limited-overs format. “The ODI side is more or less balanced and we have been really doing well, the Test side, needless to say, the kind of performances we have put in, so I am particularly excited about the three T20s, because as I said a new lot of players coming in,” Kohli said.

“Some players who have done really well in the format and shown great composure under pressure in tournaments like IPL, domestically as well. So it’s a great marker for all those guys and us as a team as well to have them in the squad,” the captain added. India will play three T20s and as many ODIs, and two Test matches during their West Indies tour, commencing 3 August. “West Indies obviously is a great place to go and play cricket. It is a relaxed place, we all have enjoyed playing cricket there,” Kohli said.

India captain also said the ICC World Test Championship, that gets underway 1 August, will add context to the longest format and give it a much-needed boost. The inaugural edition will see the elite nations — Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies — fight for top honours across 71 Test matches in 27 series over the next two years.

The top two teams will then play the final, scheduled to be to held on June 2021 in the United Kingdom. “I think it is a great thing for Test cricket to be honest. We all were looking forward to it because we all felt that after one big series or tour, a one-off Test or a couple of Tests were not apt but I think the Test Championship gives a lot of context to all the Test cricket that we want to play,” Kohli said.

India will play two Tests during the tour of West Indies and those will be part of the championship. “After the highs of a tournament like World Cup, it is only logical that the focus will shift to T20 World Cup but the Test Championship will keep the interest in Test cricket going as well. So that’s the nature of international cricket today that you have to compromise on one format to keep the other two relevant. And I am glad that people have thought about Test cricket to keep it relevant through Test championship,” said Kohli.