Virat Kohli: 'Important to make KL feel secure about his opening slot'
"KL has been our established opener. So, I think one of the openers will have to make way for KL because what, he has done in the past two years, has been very solid and he deserves to come back and start fresh in Test cricket again," said Kohli.
Colombo: India skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday made it clear that 'established opener' KL Rahul will be included in the Playing XI for the second Test against Sri Lanka starting Thursday at the SSC.
Rahul missed the opening Test at Galle as he was laid low by viral fever. However, his absence didn't affect the team's performance as they registered a historic 304-run victory to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
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"KL has been our established opener. So, I think one of the openers will have to make way for KL because what, he has done in the past two years, has been very solid and he deserves to come back and start fresh in Test cricket again," said Kohli in a press conference on the eve of the Colombo Test.
The skipper, however, didn't say as to who out of Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund, will pave way for Rahul, adding that a final decision will be taken only after the team meeting after evening practice.
"We have a team meeting after the practice and we can clarify more after the meeting but according to me, KL is definitely coming back at the top order," he said.
The 28-year-old further insisted that Rahul deserves to be backed by the team management as he has delivered with the "big performances" in the time of need.
"He played the practice game as well and he looked really solid. He has batted really well for us in the last couple of seasons. As I said it's very important to make him feel this (opening) is his spot and it won't be changed because of unfortunate events that happen outside of the playing field or the injuries. He has really struck out of that phase. It's been hard for him," said Kohli.
"It's very important to make him feel secure because he has given us the big performances when the team has required most. So, he is a guy that needs to be backed and we, as a team, and me, as a captain, back him 100 percent," he added.
Dhawan smacked his fifth Test hundred at Galle, scoring 190 off 168 balls while Mukund scored his second Test half-century in the second innings.
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However, it is highly likely that Mukund will miss the second Test if "impact" on the match is considered.
Asked about the wicket in Colombo, Kohli said that he saw a lot of grass on the wicket.
"There is a lot of grass. When you have big squad there are a lot of possibilities. We don't like to announce anything a day prior. It's sort of a surprise for opposition. Looking on the conditions we can go with anyone. Everyone is prepared to take the field," he said.
He, however, ruled out a possibility of playing left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
Sri Lanka and India have played eight Tests at this particular venue with four matches ending in a draw.
Both teams have won two matches each, with India winning the last encounter here in 2015 by 117 runs.
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund.
Sri Lanka sqaud: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Nuwan Pradeep, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Malinda Pushpakumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Lahiru Thirimanne. (ANI)