St. Lucia: India skipper Virat Kohli on Monday dropped hints that he would like to persist with KL Rahul, who seized the opportunity by scoring a hundred in the absence of injured Murali Vijay in the second Test against the West Indies.
Rahul scored 158 when he replaced Murli Vijay, who had to sit out due to a hand injury.
"The good thing is all three openers are playing well. The bad thing is that you can only choose two between three. That is a call we need to take as management. We'll sit down today and do that. Getting injured when playing well is not in your hand. That's why they say injuries can really upset people and bring them down. The good thing is Vijay has been in a good headspace. He's back to the nets and back to fielding and we will take a call on that," Kohli said on the eve of the third Test.
"Injuries are not in anyone's hands. Even in the IPL, I remember a game where Mandeep Singh was fit and set to play. While I was at the toss he split his webbing, KL got a chance and he hasn't looked back since. We conveyed to Mandeep that unfortunately it was an injury and nothing can be done about that. We need to look at the balance of the side," explained the skipper.
Kohli said his bowlers learnt a useful lesson from the drawn second Test.
"It turned out to be more challenging on day five. We know that we had the upper hand throughout. If we had play on day four we would have probably wrapped up things. The momentum was with us and it is a massive factor in cricket, in all formats, especially in Test cricket and that can only be attained by playing consistent cricket.
"We did that over a period of three days, we got the momentum, we were dominating, but you don't have control over the weather and conditions."
"On day five, it was a very good batting effort by West Indies. They applied themselves very well. But not taking anything away from our bowlers, they tried their best. Very rarely do you see the ball not reversing, not swinging conventionally and the pitch slowing down. When these three things come together, and the batsmen are applying themselves, it's very difficult to take wickets.
"It was a really good test for the bowlers. These situations will come again. We have taken positives and learning from day five and will apply those going forward in these Tests," Kohli added.
The pitch at the Darren Sammy stadium looks a bit dry, although with a little green sprinkling on the surface. However, much of it is dead grass, though properly rolled in and this wicket has a history of providing good bounce.
"I had a look at the pitch yesterday. It looks pretty similar to Antigua, even the grass covering. The surface should harden up. I think they didn't have too much time to water it and roll it because of the rain. But it should become pretty hard. We've known this wicket to have a lot of bounce and carry. That's a good sign for the bowlers. During all five days you have the chance to pick up wickets. It doesn't slow down too much, which is a very good sign and looks like a wicket, where a result is very much possible," said Kohli.
However, depending on how the pitch looks at the morning of the Test, there could be slight alterations to the combination. Ravindra Jadeja could be primed for a return, or the team might even go in with three spinners, or further yet, might retain the same bowlers once again. Rest assured, India are looking to retain their five-bowler attack.
"We speak about these things post practice before the game day. This is one area that we need to discuss as well, and what our best options are on a wicket like this. Who is fit enough to do the job the team requires them to do. This team is always up for changes according to the conditions and that's something that will be in consideration as well," Kohli signed off.