India captain Virat Kohli Friday said performance in the Indian Premier League will have “no influence” on the World Cup team selection, calling the speculation a ‘very, very radical analysis’.
With a majority of the 15 seats more or less booked on India’s flight to the United Kingdom, Kohli and Co will be zeroing in on their last couple of slots for the World Cup, which starts May 30 in England.
And after the five-match One-Day International series against defending champions Australia, majority of the Indian team will get busy with IPL action.
“No, I don’t see the IPL having any influence on World Cup selection. I think that will be very, very radical sort of analysis,” the Indian captain said on the eve of the first ODI in Hyderabad.
There were talks that, among other things, IPL could be a possible shoot-out between Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant for the second wicketkeeper’s slot in the World Cup squad.
But Kohli said that one good IPL won’t make much of a difference for any World Cup hopeful.
“We need to have a solid team. Before we head into the IPL, we need to be absolutely clear of what team we want for the World Cup. I don’t see anything changing on how the IPL goes for any of the players.
“If one or two players do not have a good IPL season, it doesn’t mean that they are out of the picture for the World Cup. Those things are not going to matter,” Kohli said.
Talking about Rishabh Pant, Kohli is keen to give the young wicket-keeper some game time but certainly not at the cost of playing a bowler less, taking the field restrictions into account.
“We will have to think about the combinations. I don’t think playing a bowler less is a good idea because with the extra fielder in till the 40th over, it becomes very difficult to sort of get a few guys to chip in with a few overs here and there.
“We will have to work out the batting combination to try and give game-time to the guys we want to. But, I don’t see the bowling combination changing,” the skipper said.
Door still open for Rahul
Kohli also dropped a hint that KL Rahul, who seems to have regained some form, has made a very good case for himself for the World Cup squad after his recent struggles on and off the field.
“It augurs really well. KL, when he plays well, is operating at a different level I feel. We have seen him do that in the IPL last year and in patches over the last season we played as a team.”
The Indian captain reiterated that a player of Rahul’s ability is not that easy to come by.
“It’s very difficult to find a consistent player, who can play good cricketing shots and still win you games at a strike-rate of over 140 or 150. He has all the shots and has a solid game as well. It will be interesting to see what happens in the final World Cup squad. Definitely, he has made a strong case for himself. It’s good he’s in great nick and hopefully he can carry it forward,” Kohli said.
The 30-year-old did not take too kindly to the suggestion that the team was experimenting during this Australia tour at the cost of winning.
“We are playing to win the series or else I’ll leave the ball to hit the stumps,” Kohli said.
“As I said earlier, if we want to see how a few guys play in a certain situation, we’ll play them again in that situation. It’s not like if a guy is not playing in a certain situation, he doesn’t have the ability,” he added.
Kohli at No 4?
The skipper reiterated that India couldn’t win the T20 International series simply because Australia were a better side.
“We could not win the T20 series because in the first match, we didn’t play good cricket and in the second match, Australia played better than us. I think it’s important you understand why we lost.
“From outside, it’s easy to say, they don’t have the heart to play. We always want to win games for India. If we only had to experiment, we would have got out for 50 as everybody would have got out trying to hit sixes.
“If you see it negatively, you’ll only be able to extract negative things but if you look at it positively, you’ll be able to take positive things,” Kohli said.
Recently, India coach Ravi Shastri had indicated that Kohli could bat at No 4 in the World Cup and the skipper said that it’s not a big deal as his “game template” doesn’t change if he comes one place down the order.
“If that’s the requirement of the team at a particular stage in the game or before a particular game, I’m more than happy to do it. I’ve batted a lot of times at No 4, so I don’t necessarily need to try it out because I’ve done that a lot of times in the past,” Kohli said.
“My game doesn’t change from No 3 to No 4 because template is quite similar. In any given situation, I back myself to play the game that I know.”