Ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka starting in Mohali on Friday, Jasprit Bumrah shared his views on being the vice-captain of the Indian team in the longest format, Virat Kohli playing his 100th Test, Ashwin Ravichandran’s fitness.
Kohli’s 100th Test is set to be against Sri Lanka in Mohali from March 4 and Bumrah made his Test debut under Kohli’s leadership in 2018.
“It is always a special achievement for a player. You know it is a testimony to his hard-work, dedication,” Bumrah said in an online press conference on Tuesday.
“...(playing) 100 Test matches for your country is a great occasion and he has contributed a lot to the success of the Indian team and will contribute a lot more in the future as well,” he added.
“It is another feather in his (Kohli’s) cap. I just wish him the best and congratulate him for the achievement.”
Bumrah also gave an update on Ashwin Ravichandran. The BCCI, while announcing the squad, had stated that the off-spinner’s availability for the first Test depended on his fitness.
“Ashwin is shaping up well. No complaints. He looked good and did everything in training today. Batted, bowled and did fielding. Hopefully, there won’t be any issue,” said Bumrah.
The pacer added that every player in the Indian squad was fit heading into the first Test against Sri Lanka as things stood on Tuesday.
Talking about his role as vice-captain of the Indian team, the 28-year-old said that it doesn’t matter whether a pacer, spinner or batter is a leader in a group.
“It comes down to what each individual brings to the table,” said Bumrah.
“See, I don’t look at it as a particular position that a spinner, or a bowler or a batter is a leader. As a senior member of the team, you have to help the players, in whatever capacity you can.
“As I have spoken before, this (vice-captain) is just a post. Yes, obviously given an opportunity, it’s a great opportunity that was presented itself and I am very happy to do that,” the right-arm speedster added.
“I will try to give my best in whatever capacity I can. But for me, I don’t think any position should matter or a bowler or a batter makes a difference, it depends on how you handle the situation and how tactically strong you are.”
Coming back to Kohli, Bumrah was asked if he would like to gift the former captain something on the special occasion.
“If the Indian team wins, then there is no best (better) present than that. But he (Kohli) as a cricketer would like to give his best,” he said.
“Whichever match we play, whether it is his 100th Test, yes obviously, (it is) a big achievement and it is a testimony to his hard work, but India’s main focus is on the series.”
The Mohali test will be played behind closed doors and asked whether it was a bit of a downer, Bumrah said, “See, right now we are in the frame of mind, where we are focussing on what we can control.
“(If) the crowds come, it is good for the energy, but that is something that we cannot control, we don’t have any power regarding that, we don’t decide the rules.”
Bumrah added: “So, for us what we can control is our energy, so we are trying to focus on that, and that is the basic thing in everybody’s mind right now, that how do we prepare. We are in the best frame of mind, even if crowds are not there, so how do we keep that energy up. And with that, obviously, as I said, it is a big, big day, a big match for Virat Kohli.”
So far, Kohli has scored 7962 runs from 99 Test matches after making his debut against the West Indies at Kingston in 2011.
Bumrah also spoke about playing in a home Test series, which is a rarity for him in his brief yet stellar red-ball international career, having played only two matches in India so far.
“Whenever I have got an opportunity, I have looked to do well. I have played a lot of Ranji Trophy cricket, these conditions are not alien to me. I have played a lot of cricket in India, which is why I have made it to the Test squad,” he said.
“It is always a special feeling to play Test cricket, be it anywhere. I don’t look at a match and say I have to play abroad or I have to play at home. I tried to adapt, analyze the wicket and try to use it to my advantage.”
Inputs from PTI