Batting will be more challenging in Test Championship – Kohli

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Virat Kohli admitted that the batsmen have not lived up to their standards © Getty

Virat Kohli, the India skipper, said Test cricket has become more competitive in recent years and the World Test Championship will only add to its competitiveness. Speaking at the WIPA awards night, Kohli said each Test will be important for the nine teams participating in the tournament, with only two teams set to play in the final in 2021.

The inaugural edition of the World Test Championship is already underway with England facing off against Australia in the five-match Ashes series while Sri Lanka are playing two Tests against New Zealand at home. India’s campaign will begin on Thursday (August 22) when they face hosts West Indies in the first Test in Antigua.

“The games are going to be much more competitive and it brings a lot of purpose to the Test matches you play. It’s the right move and at the absolute right time,” said Kohli. “People have been talking about Test cricket not being relevant, or dying. For me, the competition has gone up two-fold the last couple of years. It’s up to the players to take the challenge and go for victories. That’s going to be the essence of this Test championship as well. There will hardly be any boring draws, there will be exciting draws, because everyone will want those extra points.

Kohli, meanwhile, admitted that the batsmen have not lived up to their standards and with the Test Championship it would be even more challenging for them. “Well, if I have to be brutally honest, I don’t think us batsmen have lived up to the standard. We have travelled a lot over the past year and a half and it’s been challenging. We lost in England but won in Australia because the batsmen pulled up. As much as individuals standout, I think it’s about batting well as a team and every team wants to put up a strong total on the board for the bowlers to come in and capitalise.”

Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, spoke of the quality of his team’s fast-bowling unit and the development of the pacers in the last few years. Praising them for showing the hunger and setting the example for other fast bowlers to follow, Holder hoped that they could replicate their good work shown during the Test series at home in February 2019 which West Indies won 2-1.

“I think over the last two-three years, our fast bowlers have really led us. They’ve done everything I can ask of them, particularly Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, who have probably led our bowling attack for the last two-three years. It’s just a matter for them to stay hungry and stay fit and I think they’ve set a really good example for the other fast bowlers to follow.

“We’ve had young Alzarri Joseph playing in the last series. Unfortunately he got injured, but even he came into his own and really showed some promising signs as a very very young fast bowler. You know, I had an interesting conversation with a few other team-mates before about how impressive he was and the maturity he showed in that series and I think it’s all due to the fact that people like Kemar and Shannon have been really leading the way for them, nurturing them in their journey in Test cricket. So once we continue to build as a side and players get more confidence and obviously the experience of playing Test cricket, then we can probably keep rising and go up the rankings,” Holder said.

Kohli acknowledged that bowling has improved several-fold, not just with West Indies but with all teams in world cricket. “The bowlers have really come into their own. And as Jason mentioned their bowling attack is as lethal as anyone’s in home conditions. So we know we’re up against a big challenge here in red-ball cricket. I think batsmanship is always going to be hard at Test level but even harder now in the Test championship because every decision is going to count in the larger scheme of things.”

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