Former Team India batter VVS Laxman feels that Virat Kohli must not rest any of his key players for the fifth and final Test against England at Old Trafford. According to Laxman, although Jasprit Bumrah has bowled a lot in the series, it would be unwise to give him a breather.
At a recent press conference, Kohli had said India will look to rotate the bowlers to avoid burnouts. Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami did not feature in The Oval Test.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Laxman said Team India must go in with their best players in an attempt to win the Manchester Test.
“Team India have to play Jasprit Bumrah in the last Test. Yes, you have won the Test match and you can’t lose the Test series from hereon. But I think Team India’s dream is to beat England in England. I will play the strongest bowling lineup. And, if Mohammad Shami is fit, he would come back into the playing XI. Team India must go with the strongest team and in-form players in the last Test match."
"You don’t want to give any chance for England to come back and level the series.”
Asked to elaborate on his best XI for the last Test, Laxman said he would pick Ravichandran Ashwin ahead of Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari in place of Ajinkya Rahane.
“I would still stick with Shardul Thakur and, if the conditions are not going to be spinner friendly in Manchester, then I would give a break to Ravindra Jadeja and bring in Ravichandran Ashwin. Thakur gives balance with his medium pace, he can bat as well and he would be high on confidence. I’ll get in Hanuma Vihari to play in place of Ajinkya Rahane.”
Jadeja claimed two crucial wickets on the final day, dismissing Haseeb Hameed and Moeen Ali. Rahane’s woes, though, continued as he managed only 14 and 0 in the match. He was also demoted to No. 6 in the batting order.
“All good captains back their instincts” - Laxman analyzes Team India skipper Virat Kohli’s leadership
Win or lose, Team India skipper Kohli’s leadership style will always be under the scanner. His decision to leave out Ashwin has divided opinion. According to Laxman, Kohli is backing his instincts, like all good captains do.
“All good captains back their instincts. I still go back to the 2002 Headingley win. On a green top, under overcast conditions, Sourav Ganguly won the toss and decided to bat. Everyone thought that it was a terrible decision."
"Virat Kohli is also backing his instincts and I am always for it. Ultimately, you have to be accountable for the decisions you make and that’s why you are the captain of the team. It’s not about what the world is thinking. As long as you believe in what decisions you are taking, that’s fine, and that’s the role of the captain.”
Laxman also hailed the Team India skipper for maintaining his intensity despite being part of international cricket for 13 years.
“I always admire the intensity of Virat Kohli. I felt, when he started his career, that, at some stage, he will burn out. Every ball, you see the body language and the intensity. It is impossible for someone to sustain that for a longer period of time. For him to continue with the same aggressive body language is so infectious. That is something which is unique with Virat Kohli,” Laxman added.
Although Kohli is yet to get a big score in the series, he has gained confidence with each outing. The India captain has 218 runs to his name at an average of 31.14 with two half-centuries.