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Virat Kohli indicates India will play five bowlers and Shikhar Dhawan over KL Rahul in 1st Test against West Indies

Kohli stresses on aggressive approach and picking bowlers capable of picking 20 West Indies wickets on low bounce surface

Shikhar Dhawan will not be dropped for the 1st Test, Kohli has said

India will go into the 1st Test against West Indies at Antigua with an attacking mindset, as captain Virat Kohli said in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday. Without disclosing more details of the playing XI, he said that five bowlers will be played and that ‘third opener’ KL Rahul will have to wait for his chance to play in the series.

Kohli made his Test debut in the West Indies five years ago, finishing the series with a batting average of 15. He has come a long way in international cricket since then, and will be looking to improve his record there.

He said, “I literally had no clue about Test cricket when I came here in 2011, I learnt about the game here. I’ve been here a few times after that, but never to play Test cricket. West Indies is a great place to come back to, the atmosphere is good, the people support cricket. I am excited to be playing a series here after so long, and so is everyone else.

“We are not going to drop a player based on one series. If you’re talking about KL Rahul, his game has improved leaps and bounds in the last four months, he’s established himself as India’s third opener in the Test side. He played in Sri Lanka and got some runs there as well. But you have got to take some hard decisions at times.

“Whoever starts a Test series has a definite edge over whoever has to wait for his chance but at the same time, it is a four-match series. It is a hard call between Shikhar and Rahul – Shikhar is someone who can dominate sessions and bring you into the Test match, especially in conditions like in West Indies. It is nice to know we have KL Rahul waiting in the wings, who is as solid as anyone in world cricket right now.”

Pitch seems like good batting surface: Kohli

Having examined the pitch, Kohli said that the grass cover that could be seen was more to bind the soil than to assist fast bowlers.

“The pitch is soft and dry, like the ones back home. There will be a lot less bounce on this surface than on other West Indies grounds like Jamaica or Barbados. It will be a good batting surface, and it will be very important to have bowlers who can bowl well on the third and fourth days.

“Shami has bowled well everywhere that he has played. He had an unfortunately long layoff but is bowling well at the moment. He has the ability to bowl attacking lines and lengths. He is a complete package as a fast bowler and can take wickets at any stage of the game, which is very important and pleasing to a captain. I wish him luck for the upcoming season.

“We have found over the last year and a half that the first Test of the series sets the tone for the series, and we want to start aggressively. We want to be able to pick 20 wickets and so shall be going in with five bowlers. It is very important how the fifth bowler bowls. We shall pick bowlers who bowl on the stump line. Even if we have one batsman short, we shall take up the extra responsibility.

The 1st Test begins on Thursday at 19:30 IST, and a few early predictions that can be made are – Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are sitting the first match out, India are going in with three spinners and a new ball pairing of Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.

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