Ahead of the fourth Test against England in Southampton, India skipper Virat Kohli has hinted that he would field an unchanged side for the very first time in his captaincy stint. Notably, Kohli has never gone with the same playing XI in his 38 Tests as a captain of India.
"Everyone is fit to start. Ashwin has recovered nicely. He had a good practice session yesterday (Tuesday). He is good to go," Kohli quoted in the pre-match press conference.
"It has not always been the case of (making random) changes. There have been injuries as well, which have not been taking in to consideration. It has been a mix of both. Seeing the way things are right now we don't feel we need to change anything," he added.
After being 2-0 down, India registered an empathic 203-run victory in the third Test at Trent Bridge to stay alive in the five-Test series and now Kohli wants his team to carry the winning momentum into the fourth Test.
"We probably didn't have the experience to capitalize on the lead (1-0 after win at Lord's) is how I see things four years down the line," the Indian captain reflected on India's tour of England in 2014.
"Right now we understand that we are in a very exciting position to have gained momentum at the right time in the series. To have played like that when 2-nil down, when everyone thought that it is going to be a clean sweep or we are going to be rolled over," he further asserted.
Virat also urged his troops to be relentless and ruthless.
"As cricketers we understand when the Test match goes away from you and we spoke about recognizing that, making sure that we are relentless and ruthless in terms of capitalizing on those important moments, which we did in Nottingham," he remarked.
"But also to understand that we will have to do that two more times for us to achieve the goal that we want to (of winning the series). And not be satisfied at all with one victory only because if Nottingham was hard work, this is going to be even harder. England would want to come back strongly. We understand that and we will have to be even better with what we did in Nottingham to be able to get results our way," the 29-year-old continued.
The green-top wicket at the Ageas Bowl might work to the strengths of the Indian pacers. However, Kohli ruled out the possibility of an inclusive pace attack.
"If there is a pitch is like Johannesburg then you have no doubt whatsoever in playing an all out pace attack. But I don't think this pitch is anywhere close to Johannesburg. So I doubt an all pace attack is the right option," he said.
"...the last time we played here the spinners came into play in the second innings. There were big footmarks. The surface is pretty hard. Once it wears out there can be big footmarks and spinners can get a lot in the second innings. That is how I see the wicket as of now," the Indian captain explained.
When asked if the visiting batsmen, including him, will have to alter their techniques to adjust in this green top surface, Kohli said, "I don't think there's any need to change the way I've played so far in this series, or other batsmen the way they played in the last game.”
"If the wicket is behaving totally different, you have to be flexible adjusting there and not having pre-set notions about going out wanting to play a certain way. Apart from the pitch, conditions are going to be a massive factor as well because it's cold for the last couple of days and it's going to remain like that from what I understand. We will have to assess the situation every hour I guess because it can change very rapidly," he concluded.
(With PTI inputs)