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Catches win matches, Virat Kohli reminds India's fielders

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Cricket - India v England - First Test cricket match - Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot, India - 12/11/16. India's captain Virat Kohli dives to stop the ball as England's Haseeb Hameed (L) looks on. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Cricket - India v England - First Test cricket match - Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot, India - 12/11/16. India's captain Virat Kohli dives to stop the ball as England's Haseeb Hameed (L) looks on. REUTERS/Amit Dave

VISAKHAPATNAM, India (Reuters) - India captain Virat Kohli has demanded better catching from his fielders after they let England off the hook on the opening morning of the drawn series opener in Rajkot.

Alastair Cook was dropped twice in the first two overs after the England captain had won the toss and opted to bat while 19-year-old debutant opener Haseeb Hameed also got a reprieve, all three chances going down in the first hour.

Cook and Hameed added 47 for their opening stand to blunt India's new ball attack as England went on to post 537 in the first innings.

Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha then dropped Ben Stokes twice on the second day and the left-handed batsman went on to punish India by scoring 128.

"'Catch the ball' -- that's all I can say to sum it up," Kohli told reporters ahead of the second test starting on Thursday. "We have caught really well in the last 12-14 months.

"In test cricket if you don't take your chances then the game is very difficult to pull back. I think that was the main difference rather than skill or pitch or toss.

"If you take your chances, you have a team five down for a 100 compared to three down for 250. It's a different ball game altogether."

India will welcome fit-again opener Lokesh Rahul in the second test with Gautam Gambhir, who made 29 and zero in Rajkot, set to sit out.

"We had it pretty clear in our heads that KL is our number one choice along with (Murali) Vijay," Kohli said of the 24-year-old Rahul, who joined the squad having recovered from a hamstring injury.

"When he is fit at any stage, he comes back into the team and we are going to start with him. That was the whole idea behind it. We were waiting for him to recover as soon as possible.

"In the meantime, Gautam got the chances that he got. He played really well in different situations."

After the draw in Rajkot where India's spinners made little impact, Kohli expressed his displeasure with the pitch which he thought had too much grass.

"Generally in Vizag the pitch has always been something that helps the spinners. I expect the wicket to do the same," the 28-year-old said.

"We played a one-dayer here, the spinners got a few wickets here but at the same time the quick bowlers had a bit of assistance early on.

"It's a wicket where obviously the spinners will find it nice to bowl on."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)


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